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Scan4Safety – how has it evolved?

Date: February 27, 2018

Category: Industry news

In the first Scan4Safety insight session at our recent Healthcare Conference, three key figures in the programme look at where it all started and how it has evolved.

  • Steve Graham, eProcurement Lead, Department of Health
  • James Mayne, GS1, PEPPOL and eProcurement Manager, Derby Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust
  • Mark Songhurst, Information Analyst, Scan4Safety, Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust

Steve Graham kicked off this session by starting at the beginning of the Scan4Safety programme – the eProcurement Strategy. In the three years since it was published, how has it evolved? Firstly, whilst the word ‘procurement’ is important, it’s become about a lot more and the name ‘Scan4Safety’ reflects that. They needed to get people beyond procurement involved and they needed to get the programme noticed at a senior level.

The three main components remain the same; people, product and places all need to be identified and in a consistent way. Its potential is huge with an estimated £1bn saving opportunity over seven years for the NHS. Investment, however, is still a challenge as costs inevitably come before benefits but the savings will out way investments four to one if not more, Trusts just have to take the time to implement it.

The £1bn savings figure is also very much at the base level of implementation. There are further opportunities around clinical productivity and patient safety which haven’t yet been included in calculations. The Department of Health is looking to explore this further.

Preventing ‘never events’

Scanning people, products and places provides the foundation for a safer NHS and includes the potential to reduce the occurrence of never events and clinical error. An obvious example is in medicines administration, where with a ‘closed loop’ process, if the scanned patient identification matches that in the e-prescribing system, then the clinician has the confidence to proceed. The potential for patient safety is huge but there are further implications for clinical productivity, if we can start comparing variables within teams and across trusts.

Progress on Scan4Safety has been really good so far and with full support from the government, everyone is expected to complete the programme.

What’s already been achieved?

James Mayne, Scan4Safety Programme Manager at Derby Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, was next up to talk about what has been happening there. They’re starting to capture meaningful data about patients - where they are, what’s happened to them and who was with them. Part of this data set comes from clinicians who are scanning at point of use, and benefitting from seeing the data around everything that they do. It’s a process that’s now embedded in the Trust and it’s part of a “supermarket mentality” - why should people be trained to scan barcodes when we all already know what to do?

Three to four years ago, before Scan4Safety came along, it was just James in role. Now Derby have the equivalent of five full time roles including catalogue and image management, point of care scanning, systems maintenance, and project managers, due to the volume of new workers and the Scan4Safety initiative. Their funding for this ran out in March but due to the successes of the programme, Derby are still looking to recruit further. They’ve a project plan for the next 18 months and will be looking to extend it to the next three years.

Engagement at a senior level has been essential, on both the finance side with their Finance Director and on the clinical side with their Director of Surgery. This top down mentality, and involving every department, has really helped Scan4Safety. In theatres, scanning now captures the patient pathway from the beginning to the end of the procedure, through recovery and into the ward. They have lots of data and the risk now is that they don’t do anything with it!

The other NHS representative presenting at this session was Mark Songhurst, Information Analyst at Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust - a complex Trust with 2,000 beds, 17,000 members of staff and 175 buildings. The team at Leeds have used the Trust’s core values called “The Leeds Way” where everything is fair, collaborative, accountable, empowered and, most importantly, has the patient at the centre.

At Leeds, what’s key for them is that Scan4Safety has had board level support with a clinically led team, along with a procurement lead, a programme manager and workstream leads pulling everything together. They’ve been the first demonstrator site to label down to bed bay level, which means they have a total of 24,303 physical Global Location Numbers (GLNs) and GLN Extensions as well as 1,346 functional GLNs – meaning those that refer to departments or functions with the Trust, such as Finance. The GLNs give the Trust the ability to know for definite which room someone is in and, if it’s a ward, they can narrow it down to a particular bed bay.

In terms of the potential to reduce never events, for Mark, that comes from knowing patients and knowing products. Scanning helps them to do this in a number of ways, not least returning time to care – nurses aren’t searching for stock or having to order it. Mark was also able to show us a picture of £126,000 of stock that they had been unable to use because it was out of date. Whilst scanning doesn’t stop stock going out of date, it does mean staff are now better informed to use stock before it reaches its expiration date. The introduction of an Inventory Manager in the area through Scan4Safety has meant that the situation has not re-occurred.

As the session concluded, we were reminded of programme’s fundamental message; what it’s all about for the Department of Health and the Scan4Safety trusts is making sure it’s the right patient, the right product, the right place and the right process, every time.

To find out more about Scan4Safety, visit


Watch Salisbury’s Scan4Safety webinars

How do we prevent ‘never events’ in the NHS?

GS1 UK Healthcare Conference 2017