Supermarket technology could save the NHS in England £2bn a year by preventing patients from receiving the wrong treatment due to mistaken identity.

Incorrect surgery, the wrong medicines, and inappropriate tests should all be slashed by a universal barcoding system to automatically identify patients.

As well as tagging patients, the system will code medicines and medical devices to ensure an efficient delivery and prevent fraud.

Coding for Success: simple technology for safer patient care, recommends that the GS1 system should be voluntarily adopted by trusts. It says the Department of Health, the National Patient Safety Agency, and the Information Standards Board will all provide support for NHS organisations.

GS1 is a not-for-profit independent global standards body that provides members with an international system of unique identification numbering. It will be providing its numbering systems and support to all NHS organisations..

Health minister Lord Hunt told HSJ: 'It's a great example of the NHS pioneering technology leading to safer care and less paper work.

'I really think the NHS will welcome this and it will recognise the huge opportunity for better care. It's a no-brainer that the NHS should all work with the same code.'