Jackie Pomroy explains how NHS South of England Procurement Services is benefitting from using GS1 standards

This article was part of the eProcurement channel, in association GS1. The channel is no longer being updated.

Last year the Department of Health stated that every product procured by an NHS trust had to be identified using GS1 standards.

‘Medical staff spend less time searching for items and more precious time with patients’

I had been pushing for my trust’s suppliers to use GS1 standards since 2012, after discovering that multiple items shared the same barcode and product number.

I recognised the need to create a unified system to manage all the trust’s suppliers, equipment and medication.

My trust’s suppliers are now increasingly using GS1 numbers and barcodes to identify their products. This means my colleagues and I have complete visibility of the inventory across the trust – and that means medical staff are spending less time searching for items and more precious time with patients. 

Tighter stock control

This visibility gives my team a much tighter control over their stock.

Knowing where everything is, in the correct quantities, has drastically reduced duplicate items. That reduction alone has saved 20 per cent on surplus stock, and that is money that can be redirected to giving patients more care and attention.

‘It’s estimated that GS1 standards could help to save around £1bn every year’

GS1 standards are helping to improve patient care in other ways, too.

Every patient in the trust can be identified by a barcoded wristband, using GS1 standards, which allows every medication and procedure to be tracked to each patient. That lets doctors accurately measure what is working – and what is not – for every single case they handle. 

Tighter stock control, greater visibility and increased efficiency are priceless benefits. As GS1 standards are adopted across the whole NHS, it is estimated that they could help to save around £1bn every year.  

Jackie Pomroy is head of supply chain for NHS South of England Procurement Services