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Portsmouth Hospitals NHS Trust

Jackie Pomroy, Head of Supply Chain


Portsmouth Hospitals NHS Trust’s vision is to be recognised as a world-class hospital – leading the field through innovative healthcare solutions, focusing on the best outcome for patients, delivered in a safe, caring and inspiring environment.

To help achieve this, the Trust recognised the need for a good inventory management system. Knowing what stock is available at all times across the entire Trust, not only reduces waste and saves money, but is essential for improved patient care. The ultimate goal is to track all products from suppliers to the point-of-use, at patient level.

What was the problem?

Back in 2012, Jackie Pomroy, Head of Supply Chain at the Trust, recognised there was a problem with their internal and external supply chains.

Externally, Jackie’s team discovered that products were not identified with a uniform system. As many as 13 different types of barcodes were found. Different suppliers, manufacturers and distributors often used the same codes for different products.

And internally, clinical staff were often informally managing inventory themselves. Sometimes they even did supermarket-style sweeps through the store rooms, scooping up what they thought they needed, making the problem worse:

  • Wastage increased
  • Stock levels would sometimes be too low
  • At other times stock levels would be far too high, causing yet more wastage
  • Inventory value was often declared incorrectly

How was the problem solved?

A new inventory management system was planned, starting with theatres then cardiology, using GS1 standards to identify all products – at inner and outer packaging level. They implemented the system across a 27 theatre complex with 40 supporting locations, cardiology, audiology and six wards to date.

How were GS1 standards used to help deliver the solution?

The Trust now use GTINs (Global Trade Item Numbers) to uniquely identify products. In cardiology, the majority of products used must also have batch or lot numbers, and often expiry dates. Increasingly, products must also be serialised – uniquely identifying each individual instance of the product. GS1 barcodes are used to encode all this information.

What’s been achieved so far?

The Trust’s contracting team now request suppliers to provide GTINs with all other required product information. This is helping the Trust to build a rich database of accurate and up-to-date information, which feeds directly into the inventory management system.

The Trust is currently scanning all products with barcodes into and out of store rooms. They are striving to get 100% of products barcoded – as the number of barcoded products increase, so does the overall efficiency.

What are the benefits?

As products are identified with GTINs, the Trust is able to streamline its ordering and inventory processes. Knowing that a standard GS1 barcode contains the GTIN, the batch, lot or serial number and the expiry date meant that the required information can be scanned and captured at the point of use – quickly and easily. An immediate benefit is that they use the products with the shortest life remaining first, meaning less wastage of expired products. Also, by scanning the batch or lot numbers they easily prevent the use of recalled products, improving efficiency and, most importantly, patient safety.

  • The return on investment was calculated as 8.5:1
  • Stock has been reduced by 20%
  • Waste has been reduced to less than 1%
  • Recalls are handled quickly and more efficiently
  • Inventory data is more accurate and visible across the whole Trust

Next steps

The next step is to scan products at the point of use with all patients – and to identify all patients with wristbands using GS1 standards too. This means the Trust will be able to track all products to the patient – enabling patient level costing.

Patient outcomes will be measured more effectively too – as the Trust can understand more about what works best for each patient.

GLNs (Global Location Numbers) will be implemented across the Trust, to uniquely identify every location, and the estate’s department has started its procurement process for a GS1 compliant facilities management system to enable efficient space management. Once this is in place, a GS1 compliant asset management system will also be implemented.

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