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Location identification in the NHS

GS1 standards identify everything from rooms and wards to departments and hospitals

Location information is required by many separate functions within a Trust. Currently each function tends to develop its own approach to location information geared to its own specific requirements. This has led to uncoordinated approaches to identifying locations within Trusts which do not always make a clear distinction between physical locations and organisation entities.

As Trusts develop integrated applications and technologies which cross departmental and functional boundaries this silo approach will cause problems. For example barcodes or RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) tags on physical locations can be used by a wide variety of applications including medical physics, bed management, materials management and estates management. 

A common location identifier usable by all applications is becoming increasingly important.

GS1 standards, using the Global Location Number (GLN), provide the best option for a common location identifier which is suitable for all existing Trust applications. 

It is recommended that Trusts adopt GLNs for both physical locations and organisation entities and should provide information about the GLNs to their suppliers in electronic form, ideally through an online GLN registry. In the short term any Trust planning to barcode or tag physical locations should use a GS1 GLN in a GS1 compliant barcode or RFID tag.

Read our guidelines document (PDF) and understand why location identification is important and how GS1 standards are used to identify everything from rooms and wards to departments and hospitals.

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How we can help

Our team of GS1 experts can show you how a single system for identifying locations will help your Trust. Please get in touch or learn from the resources here.