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World Standards Day: GS1 UK shines a light on power of standards in healthcare

London, 14 October 2017 – GS1 UK is celebrating World Standards Day* by shining a light on the use of data and information standards in healthcare.

The healthcare industry is increasingly using GS1 standards and barcodes to improve patient safety, enhance clinical effectiveness and drive operational efficiencies.

On World Standards Day, GS1 UK and the other GS1 Member Organisations across the globe will be showcasing international case studies** from North and South America, Europe and Asia in which use of standards has led to safer, more efficient care.

In the UK, both healthcare providers and suppliers have adopted GS1 data and information standards to capture and identify products, equipment and patients.

Derby Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust serves a population of more than 600,000 people and required a better process to manage product recalls to improve patient safety.

The Trust applied GS1 standards through implementing a cloud-based inventory management system, a product catalogue and a barcode scanning solution. This enabled the Trust to identify and scan all products, staff, patients, surgical instruments and medical equipment in the theatre at the time of the surgical procedure.

By incorporating GS1 standards, when recalls take place the Trust can now easily identify all their products, preventing their repeated use and improving patient safety. The Trust can also identify all patients that may have been affected by products that need to be recalled, including patients with implants who returned home.

Administrative benefits have been numerous. Stock is automatically updated, the Trust is provided with a complete and accurate record of the operation, and the Trust has benefitted from efficiency savings of nearly £800,000 in 2015/16, with a further £1.2m saved in 2016/17.

The Trust is now rolling out GS1 Standards across all their theatres and will introduce scanning facilities to their wards with the ability to track the whole patient pathway.

Kevin Downs, Director of Finance and Performance for Derby Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, said: “Running a hospital is a considerable challenge and the data we’re able to harness from GS1 standards has significantly contributed to the hospital’s success.

“Since integrating GS1 standards with our inventory management, product catalogue and financial system we have created efficiencies that saved us £1.2m in the first year. This is just from our rollout in theatre, endoscopy and cardio cath labs, demonstrating the massive potential of implementing GS1 standards in other areas.”

Keith Jones, Clinical Director of Surgery for Derby Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, said: “Barcodes are definitely not the preserve of the retail industry. We scan everything that takes place in our theatres and have recorded over 100,000 surgical procedures so far. That’s a major database of clinical information that, for example, I can use to look at clinical variation in surgery to make sure we’re working as efficiently as we can.

“GS1 standards are also vital for patient safety. For a product recall it used to take 50 hours to trace who had been affected. Using GS1 standards, I now know exactly who has been affected in just 30 minutes and this has vastly improved our response times, ultimately benefiting the patient.”

In 2014 the Department of Health mandated that all NHS Trusts in England must adopt GS1 standards and all their suppliers must become GS1 compliant***. The deadline for compliance is 2019/20.

Six sites were awarded a share of £12m by the Department of Health to adopt GS1 and PEPPOL standards including Derby Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust, North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust, Plymouth Hospitals NHS Trust, Royal Cornwall Hospitals NHS Trust and Salisbury NHS Foundation Trust.

And every Acute Trust in England are now GS1 members, which means that they have adopted GS1 Standards, while encouraging their suppliers to do likewise.

Glen Hodgson, GS1 UK’s Head of Healthcare, said: “Healthcare is such an important service in the UK and the NHS is constantly striving to make efficiencies, cost-saving measures and most importantly, improve patient safety.

“GS1 Standards have a vital role in helping the NHS achieve their objectives as they allow Hospitals and Trusts to effectively manage their products and procedures, so they can get on with providing the best service possible to their patients. Standards also help Hospitals speak a common language with their suppliers ensuring healthcare providers to get exactly what they need and at the right time.”

He added: “On World Standards Day, we are seeing that GS1 standards are also adopted in other countries meaning they have universal applications wherever you are in the world.”

- ENDS -

Notes to editors

For further information or requests for interviews, please contact Tim Haidar: 020 7092 3584 /

*World Standards Day is an annual event organised by the International Organisation for Standardization:

***Link to NHS e-procurement strategy:

**Case studies


Further UK-based case studies can be found here:


  • The Antonius hospital network in the Netherlands scans GS1 barcodes applied to each single-unit medication package.
  • For example, a single packaged pill is issued by the pharmacy, the barcode is scanned and the medication sent to the appropriate ward.
  • On the ward
    • The barcode on the patient’s wristband is scanned just before the medication is administered and the display on the computer screen confirms that the right medication is being administered at the right time to the right patient.
    • At the same time, the medication batch number and expiry date is recorded.
  • This barcode-based administration registration system has made the administration of medications safer, improving patient safety. This implementation has shown that serious administration errors can be prevented by as much as 50 percent by using barcode verification during medication administration.


  • Prati-Donaduzzi, the Brazilian-based drug manufacturer, started using GS1 identifiers and barcodes for its pharmaceutical drugs at the single-unit level.
  • For the hospitals using these products, the move has demonstrably improved the care and safety for patients, ensuring that patients get the right medicine at the right time in the right doses.
  • The use of GS1 standards has also increased efficiency for hospitals where medication unitisation costs have been reduced by 30-42%.


  • Fukui hospital in Japan applied GS1 standards to enable an integrated sterilisation management system for the identification of 20,000 surgical instruments.
  • When assembling instruments for surgical operations, Fukui hospital staff scan the GS1 barcodes directly marked on the instruments.
  • As a result the hospital reduced the time required to assemble instruments by 2,000 hours per year.
  • Overall surgical operation preparation process time was reduced by 500 hours per year.
  • Today Fukui Hospital has a system recording the specific surgical procedures in which particular surgical instruments were used.

About GS1 UK

GS1 UK is a community of over 30,000 members working in retail, foodservice, healthcare and more. GS1 UK is one of 112 independent, not-for-profit GS1 organisations operating across 150 countries worldwide. GS1 UK helps everyone involved in making, moving and trading goods, automate and standardise their supply chain processes using the common language of GS1 global standards.