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Plymouth Hospitals applies barcodes to medical products



Trust applies technology under GS1 standards as part of NHS Scan4Safety programme

Plymouth Hospitals NHS Trust has created a barcoding system for the management and location of medical products as part of the national Scan4Safety programme to use the technology in the health service.

In a project with NHS Shared Business Services (NHS SBS) and healthcare tech company Global Healthcare Exchange, it has barcoded the relevant products as part of streamlining the identification and payment process for suppliers.

NHS SBS said this will enable the trust to reduce waste across the purchase to pay process by providing up-to-date catalogue information managed by the suppliers. In turn, suppliers will know exactly which products they are expected to deliver to the trusts.

£3 million savings

Plymouth Hospitals is one of the six demonstrator sites in the Scan4Safety programme, which is aimed at saving an average of £3 million a year for every NHS hospital in England.

It is using GS1 standards for the barcodes – set by the global, non-profit organisation of the same name – and those within the Pan European Public Procurement On-Line (PEPPOL) framework.

Ann James, the trust’s chief executive and a member of the Scan4Safety programme board, 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.”

Other hospital trusts will be able to use the platform Plymouth Hospitals has created in the project, and its next planned step is to use barcodes under GS1 standards in trauma and orthopaedics. This is expected to enable theatre teams to track products for processes such as knee and hip implants.

Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt recently expressed his support for Scan4Safety, saying that using barcodes could help to raise care standards and reduce waste in the NHS.

Image from GOV.UK, Open Government Licence v3.0

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