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Deployment of GS1 standards across the NHS is delivering proven patient safety and financial benefits

London, 26 January 2017 – Exactly a year ago today the Department of Health announced the first demonstrator sites of excellence that kick-started the Scan4Safety project. Now, all six chosen Trusts are actively deploying GS1 and PEPPOL standards and are already delivering significant and quantifiable patient safety and financial benefits.

The Scan4Safety project is helping the NHS save thousands of lives and millions of pounds by adopting GS1 standards and enabling Trusts to identify every person, every product and every place. This provides Trusts with the certainty of truth of who did what to whom – when, where and why.

Based on the initial findings from the six demonstrator sites, it is estimated that for a typical NHS Hospital Trust, the benefits could be*:

  • Time released for more patient care – equivalent to 16 band five nurses per Trust, or 2,400 band five nurses across the NHS
  • A reduction of inventory averaging £1.5 million per Trust, or £216 million across the NHS
  • Ongoing operational efficiencies of £2.4 million per Trust annually, or £365 million across the NHS

Salisbury NHS Foundation Trust have already found significant benefits throughout the Trust, from releasing time for care and the availability of patient level costings to greater stock reduction and improved supply chain transparency. Rob Drag, Scan4Safety Programme Manager at the Trust confirms: “We now have real transparency of the actual cost of our procedures and complete visibility of our stock. By better understanding our inventory profile and demand, we can now reduce costs in our supply chain and release the time our staff have been spending on administrative duties.” And Richard Price, Scan4Safety Programme Manager at Plymouth Hospitals NHS Trust adds: “By using GS1 standards we’ve seen a big difference in our inventory management through re-providing clinical space and reducing both expired products and stock-outs.”

Within the first year of the Scan4Safety project, considerable cost savings have been achieved so far – and these are to be repeated every year going forward. For instance, Kevin Downs, Director of Finance and Performance at Derby Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust says they have now saved £1.2 million annually through reduced consumption in theatres. And Rob Drag at Salisbury says they’ve also made early savings of £297,000 while having patient level costings available for the first time, which exceeded their initial predictions. “These are just the tip of the iceberg. The real value comes from the provision of rich data, which when leveraged correctly will force a cultural change across the Trust – moving the conversation away from product price, to one based around clinical productivity,” he adds.

Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust have so far saved £812,000 through reducing the amount of stock they hold. David Berridge, Deputy Chief Medical Officer says: “Through GS1 compliant barcodes, stock tracking is now more accurate. We’ve seen a significant reduction in clinical time spent locating products and therefore more time has been released to care for patients.”

The sites were also tasked with identifying any challenges they faced – from dealing with different systems to implementing change to existing ways of working. Chris Slater, Associate Director, Commercial & Procurement at Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust notes: “The integration of clinical and financial systems has proved more challenging than we initially envisaged – a challenge that is being universally experienced across other demonstrator sites.” Jane Hawkes, Head of Procurement & Supplies and Project Lead at North Tees and Hartlepool Hospitals NHS Trust backs this up, saying: “I think we underestimated the amount of time that’s required to develop current systems and interfaces, which is then followed by lengthy testing requirements prior to going live.”

Glen Hodgson, Head of Healthcare at GS1 UK, says: “We’re thrilled to see the great progress that all six demonstrator sites have shown in adopting GS1 standards. What we’ve learned from their activity is giving us clear guidance and best practice examples which can be taken to all NHS Acute Trusts in England. This week over 80 Trusts and 200 suppliers attended the latest Scan4Safety conference– showing the passion and desire to take the project wider and deeper throughout the NHS.”

Going forward the six demonstrator sites have many more aspirations. Chris Slatersays: “Our main aim is to be able to scan every relevant product from the supplier to the patient at the point of care, ensuring a smooth product recall, should this be required.” Jane Hawkes adds: “We want to continue improving the safety of patients, increase the amount of time clinical staff are able to spend with them and improve the NHS to ensure we continue to provide the best world class service.”

Glen Hodgson adds: “Only last month the Secretary of State, Jeremy Hunt said that ‘Scan4Safety is a world first in healthcare – and a vital part of this government's drive to make the NHS the safest and most transparent healthcare system in the world.’ GS1 UK are proud to be supporting this and to see increasing interest from our 112 organisations across the globe, wanting to learn from this world-leading initiative.”

– Ends –

About Scan4Safety

The six demonstrator sites selected by the Department of Health to demonstrate the benefits of GS1 and PEPPOL standards are 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.

About GS1 UK

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

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.