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GS1 UK partners with NHS Scotland to focus on delivering full traceability in healthcare

NHS Scotland commits to the widespread adoption of GS1 standards across the region.

London, 24 August 2021 – GS1 UK, the standards organisation, has announced the signing of a five-year agreement with NHS Scotland to drive the rollout of GS1 standards within provider organisations across the country.

NHS Scotland becomes the latest devolved nation – alongside England, Northern Ireland, and more recently Wales – to commit to the widespread adoption of GS1’s unique identifiers for every person, every product, and every place within a clinical setting. GS1 standards provide a common language in healthcare, underpinning systems, and processes to ensure data flow for every patient, irrespective of the care setting.

The partnership announcement comes to bear as The Medicines and Medical Devices Act (The MMDA) becomes legislation in the UK. In anticipation, NHS Scotland are looking to use GS1 standards to enable them to identify, track, and trace products (namely medicines and medical devices), in conjunction with The MMDA’s requirements. 

In addition, in March 2021, NHS National Services Scotland (NSS) selected Genesis Automation as its partner of choice for a five-year strategic initiative to deploy a new inventory management system (IMS) in hospitals across the country. Capturing and sharing GS1 standards, such as the Global Trade Item Number (GTIN) – the barcode number, within the new IMS will be fundamental to enabling the traceability of products across the product supply chain and patient pathway. This results in improvements in patient safety via inventory management as a result of the rapid recall of products. 

With access to GS1 UK’s LocationManager as part of the agreement, products will be able to be tracked from the point of manufacture directly to the location of use at the point of care. Pair with this the capacity to uniquely identify patients, and there is a mechanism embedded to enable full traceability along the supply chain and patient pathway. 

Evidence around the benefits of using GS1 standards have already been established in the Department of Health and Social Care’s Scan4Safety report published in July 2020 – A scan of the benefits: the Scan4Safety evidence report. Learnings from these established use cases will support the development of NHS Scotland’s services to power traceability in a clinical setting.

In a statement provided by Jonathan Cameron, Director of Digital Health and Care, Scottish Government said: “We are delighted to be working in partnership with GS1 UK to increase the adoption of GS1 standards – the aim being to enhance patient safety, reduce unwarranted clinical variation and drive operational efficiencies in Scotland.

“Driving greater transparency and interoperability into our healthcare system will not only provide us with the data needed, but we will also be able to inform clinical decision making which is a critical driver for improvement.

“The implementation of GS1 standards will go a long way towards delivering our goal of the provision of even safer and more efficient care for our patient population.”

Glen Hodgson, head of healthcare at GS1 UK, said: “Because GS1 standards are both system and device agnostic, they allow for the seamless exchange of information beyond both system and organisational boundaries. This is the key to achieving traceability in healthcare and it is here where the true value lies. 

“The principles of the Scan4Safety programme were built on the adoption of these standards in clinical settings and doing so has already realised significant benefits for the sector – saving thousands of lives and millions of pounds across the NHS.

“We look forward to collaborating with the Scottish Government and NHS Scotland as part of this partnership, to support the execution of their strategic healthcare objectives over the next few years.”

To understand how GS1 standards are enabling the NHS to save thousands of lives and millions of pounds every year, visit and to access the Scan4Safety evidence report, visit  

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About GS1 UK

GS1 UK is one of 115 neutral and independent GS1 organisations operating worldwide.

Whether online, in store or in a hospital, the common language of GS1 standards is helping our community of over 54,000 organisations to uniquely identify, describe and track anything, creating greater trust in data for everyone.

Our standards have the power to deliver change now and in the future by driving efficiency in the supply chain, and transparency in the wider society, through initiatives such as patient safety programmes and deposit return schemes.

From product barcodes to patient wristbands, we harness the power of GS1 standards to transform the way people work and live. / @gs1uk

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