Plymouth lays foundation for NHS savings with GS1 milestone

Plymouth Hospitals NHS Trust has achieved a major financial transaction milestone as part of the NHS drive to use GS1 standards to allow every NHS hospital in England to save an average of £3 million annually through improved patient safety, greater regulatory compliance and widespread operational efficiencies.

As the largest acute teaching hospital in the South West, serving a population of over 2 million, the Trust is one of six NHS demonstrator sites selected as part of the Department of Health's Scan4Safety strategy. The strategy mandates NHS acute trusts to use GS1 barcoding standards, similar to those used in retail, to accurately identify patients, products and places within a trust.

Now, working with business support specialist NHS Shared Business Services (NHS SBS) and healthcare technology company Global Healthcare Exchange (GHX), the Trust has streamlined the payment and product identification process for suppliers. This will help both the Trust and NHS reduce waste across the 'Purchase to Pay' process by using up-to-date catalogue information managed by suppliers. In turn, suppliers will know exactly which products they are expected to deliver to the trusts.

Plymouth's Scan4Safety work supports the delivery of key operational objectives by simplifying processes which releases staff time to frontline care to aid patient safety by identifying the right product for the right patient.

Plymouth chief executive and Scan4Safety programme board member Ann Jones, said: "Thanks to collaborating with our workforce and suppliers, and other trusts on the Scan4Safety programme, we now have a platform that can help the NHS ensure that every product used in hospital is assigned to the right location, to the right patient, and is backed up by the right purchase orders and invoices. This will benefit Plymouth and the wider NHS as it looks to deliver efficiencies that will help enhance the quality of care we can provide."

NHS SBS managing director David Morris, said: "This is rightly seen as a great advance on the Scan4Safety journey. Plymouth is leading the way in using accepted standards from other industries to improve patient safety, and this has been achieved through successful collaboration. This once again shows how the NHS can excel at more efficient ways of working when they are implemented in the right way."

GHX UK country manager James Thirkill, added: "Partnering with Plymouth on the e-commerce foundation for standards implementation, including the ability to track orders and measure performance in Scan4Safety, has provided the ability to hold, store and then use GS1 standards. This in turn can help enable faster rollout of these capabilities right across the NHS. The success of this pilot means that Plymouth has created a compliance platform which every other trust can now use and benefit from."

Future plans for the Trust include using GS1 standards within trauma and orthopaedics, so that theatre teams can track products such as knee and hip implants used by each patient and so support faster product recall, and more efficient inventory management.

Plymouth is also sharing its experiences with other demonstrator sites as part of best practice materials to help enable other trusts to implement GS1 standards in the most efficient way possible.

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