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GS1 – No Longer Simply “A Good Idea” – The NHS Mandate Is Here & Now!

Every Hospital Must Comply
With GS1 Standards For Barcoding & RFID

2 ½ Years On – What’s Your Plan?

Published by the Department of Health in April 2014, as part of the NHS eProcurement Strategy, the mandate states that any service or product procured by an NHS Acute Trust in England must be compliant with GS1 barcode/RFID standards. Its core focus is to enable transparency and efficiency in NHS procurement to help support patient safety.

By now all hospitals should be well on with their transition planning to make this happen.

What Is GS1?

GS1 is the global body responsible for managing barcode and RFID standards, improving efficiency in the track and trace of items, assets and people around the world. GS1 UK is an independent, not-for-profit organisation with over 29,000 members. The mandate means all hospitals, as well as suppliers of products and services to the NHS, will speak the same language in terms of barcoding and RFID, driving operational efficiencies, improving patient safety and improving regulatory compliance.

In the long game GS1 standards will allow Trusts to uniquely identify every person, every item and every place within the NHS with the biggest benefits coming from data that links the people with the items and the places.

Time For Action!

The NHS is changing. Lord Patrick Carter is advising Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt on how hospital budgets can be better spent. In June last year he published a report stating that £5 Billion per year could and should be saved by 2020. Since then he has fleshed out his recommendations outlining how he believes the NHS can achieve this significant saving in his interim and final reviews.

Lord Carter says that the introduction of GS1 standards will allow every NHS hospital in England to save an average up to £3million each year, while improving patient care.

Although Carter’s plan has been dubbed the most ambitious ever in terms of efficiency savings in the NHS it is clear the Government means business. The following key documents provide evidence of this. The consistent message across all of these publications from every corner of our healthcare system is that now is the time to act. Adopting GS1 standards is no longer simply ‘a good idea’ it is here and now!

The Department of Health’s eProcurement Strategy (April 2014)
The NHS Five Year Forward View (Oct 2014)
The National Information Board’s Personalised Health & Care Strategy 2020 (Nov 2014)
The Interim Carter Review (June 2015)
Carter’s Final Review (Feb 2016)

Progress So Far?

GS1 and its healthcare team are working incredibly hard to get the message across and progress has been made. All 154 Acute Trusts in England are now members of GS1 and the Department of Health has invested £12 Million in the Scan4Safety programme. The programme involves six hospital ‘demonstrator’ sites chosen to implement track and trace technology. The idea is they will of course realise benefits and savings for their operations but it will also enable them to share the kind of insights, challenges and opportunities that come to light when adopting GS1 standards in a ‘real’ healthcare environment for best practice.

Many Are Unaware Or Confused

Although significant progress has been made, the transition over to GS1 for all hospitals is no mean feat. For Spa Track it is apparent at the coal face of surgical instrument tracking that the NHS GS1 Mandate message is not getting through to everyone.

Martin Johnson, Spa Track’s CEO said, “Having met with many Trusts about RFID for surgical instrument tracking it is always a surprise when some people in Sterile Services and Theatre Management tell me they don’t know about the GS1 Mandate. We have been living and breathing it for the last 2½ years but I guess the NHS is so huge and swamped with information that it’s just not getting through to everyone who needs to know. We are finding many are still unaware or confused by it.”

What To Do About It?

All Spa Track solutions are GS1 compliant. Any Trust wanting to know about surgical instrument tracking with RFID, or any other on-metal track and trace challenge within the NHS, Team Spa Track is well positioned to help.

Please contact Martin Johnson or Adam Gutteridge on 01905 792409.

The GS1 website explains clearly what the mandate is all about as well as what trusts, suppliers and solutions providers are expected to do.

For Trusts
For Suppliers
For Solutions Providers

Other Help

The Department of Health has recently issued a timeline and FAQ document for medical device suppliers re the adoption of GS1 standards and also for PEPPOL standards (Pan-European Public Procurement Online) for electronic ordering / invoicing, and although they have not yet published anything similar for NHS Trusts and their suppliers this document makes insightful reading for all of us.

Other Important Legislation

Spa Track solutions can also help you with other important legislation on the horizon that is also driving adoption of GS1 standards.

• UDI (Unique Device Identification)

Again for help planning to your transition please contact Martin Johnson or Adam Gutteridge on 01905 792409.

The GS1 website provides further information here:

Compliance In Healthcare

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