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Government's 2023 mandate to NHS England calls for all trusts to adopt barcode scanning by 2024

London, 27 June 2023 - To digitally transform the NHS and ensure its long-term sustainability, the government has mandated that all trusts across England should adopt barcode scanning of high-risk medical devices by March 2024.

Published on 15 June, the government’s 2023 mandate to NHS England has set out key objectives for cutting waiting lists and recovering performance as well as enhancing the service’s use of technology and its workforce.

Each objective can be supported by the adoption of point of care barcode scanning powered by GS1 standards, further strengthening the case for widespread adoption. This in turn will support digital transformation, boost efficiency and enhance patient safety.

The 2024 deadline set by the mandate is a clear reflection of the vital role that barcode scanning can play in levelling up the NHS’s digital maturity and infrastructure.

This has already been proven by the Scan4Safety initiative which, in 2016, saw six trusts implement GS1 powered barcodes to uniquely identify every person, product and place.

By enabling end-to-end traceability and cohesive, interoperable processes throughout the entire patient pathway, the initial programme released over 140 thousand hours of clinical time back into care along with almost £5 million in recurrent inventory savings and £9 million of non-recurrent inventory reductions.

Scan4Safety was relaunched by NHS England in October 2022 and continues to gain momentum. 31 per cent of trusts in England have now adopted GS1 standards and programmes are now being implemented across Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland.

The mandate states that any data captured must be submitted to the national mandatory Medical Device Outcome Registry (MDOR) to improve patient safety and outcomes in procedures using high-risk medical devices.

Scan4Safety and the MDOR can work in tandem to improve the traceability of medical devices from manufacture through to the end patient. This relies heavily on unique identification as suppliers need to ensure unique device identifiers (UDIs) are issued to their products. More than 95 per cent are already using GS1 Global Trade Item Numbers (GTINs) to do so.

Glen Hodgson, head of healthcare, GS1 UK said: “It is highly encouraging to see the government recognise the importance of point of care barcode scanning. This mandate will act as a powerful catalyst for encouraging more organisations to harness the power of data to adapt to the challenges of today and build resilience for the future.

“We are already supporting the next generation of Scan4Safety adopters and will expand this support to any organisation that wishes to implement GS1 standards. We look forward to seeing the impact of the programme’s continued growth in the coming months and years.”

NHS England has also renewed its drive for Scan4Safety adoption with the launch of a new website. scan4safety.nhs.uk will act as a central information hub, providing case studies, updates, tools, resources and practical advice for any trusts looking to expand or embark on their own adoption journeys. A website for NHS Scotland’s Scan for Safety programme can also be accessed at: https://scanforsafety.nhs.scot.

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Notes to editors

For further information or requests for interviews, contact Alex Cox: 07464 946 769; alexander.cox@gs1uk.org.

About Scan4Safety

The six demonstrator sites selected by the Department of Health and Social Care to demonstrate the benefits of GS1 and Peppol standards were Derby Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, The 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.

Following the success of the programme in England, Scan4Safety has since been adopted by several NHS trusts in England. National Scan4Safety programmes have now been established in Scotland and Wales with Northern Ireland looking to implement point of care scanning via its transformational Encompass programme. Similar initiatives have also been developed in other countries including Norway, Japan and Ireland among others.


About GS1 UK

Whether online, in store or in a hospital, the common language of GS1 global standards is helping our community of more than 58,000 organisations across the UK to uniquely identify, describe and track anything, creating greater trust in data for everyone.

From product barcodes to patient wristbands, GS1 standards have been transforming the way we work and live for nearly 50 years.

GS1 UK is one of 116 neutral and independent GS1 organisations operating worldwide.

www.gs1uk.org / @gs1uk