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Ben Clarke: ensure you implement GS1 standards across your product range

Wednesday June 17th, 2015

The NHS eProcurement Strategy mandates that any service or product procured by an NHS Acute Trust must be compliant with GS1 standards. This is the most significant recent change in NHS procurement and will affect suppliers, according to Ben Clarke, Training and Education Manager at GS1 UK. barcode

The Department of Health published the NHS eProcurement Strategy in May 2014, providing details of actions to improve NHS data, and information, as part of the NHS Procurement Development Programme. The programme aims to help the NHS save £1.5bn by financial year 2015/16.

The actions in the strategy aim to define standards to ensure NHS e-procurement systems work together. It will also require the adoption of standards by the NHS, such as GS1 coding and PEPPOL messaging standards. The strategy will require investment in technology solutions that will support e-procurement implementation by the NHS and establish a single NHS spend analysis and price benchmarking service.

Mr Clarke said: “Against the backdrop of a growing and ageing population, a sustained period of austerity, intense performance scrutiny and increasing patient empowerment, there is consensus that transformational change is needed – to put the patient back at the heart of the NHS. Furthermore, the Carter Review into efficiency will require the NHS to achieve more with less.

“Last year, the Department of Health published its eProcurement Strategy. This set out a range of measures to enable transparency and efficiency in NHS procurement to help support patient safety. The strategy includes a mandate that means any service or product procured by an NHS Acute Trust must be compliant with GS1 barcoding standards. Compliance with these standards will enable Trusts to manage their non-pay spending through the adoption of master procurement data, automating the exchange of procurement data and benchmarking procurement expenditure against other Trusts and healthcare providers.

“Although great progress has been made during the year since the strategy was published, much work is still to be done in order to reap the benefits of increased procurement efficiency.”

GS1 standards provide a globally unique identification system. They allow anything that is procured to be identified by a barcode. The idea is that GS1 standards will help ensure that the right patient receives the right treatment at the right time. Mr Clarke would like to see the further adoption of GS1 barcoding standards throughout the NHS procurement process, as mandated by the Department of Health. This, he says, requires Trusts, suppliers and solution providers to work together.

When Mr Clarke takes to the stage at the inaugural P4H 2015 conference he will seek to help delegates understand the background to the Department of Health’s eProcurement Strategy, the progress that has been made during the last year, and the work that is being done currently. He will also explain that the benefits of adopting GS1 standards go beyond procurement efficiency, delivering improved patient safety, regulatory compliance and greater operational efficiencies.

What tips can Mr Clarke give to any supplier looking to sell to the NHS for the first time?

He said: “Ensure you implement GS1 standards across your product range. This will not only enable you to comply with the eProcurement Strategy in the UK, but also ensure you are using standards that are being implemented throughout healthcare systems globally, and also are required for compliance with regulations such as the US FDA Unique Device Identification (UDI) regulation and the Falsified Medicine Directive (FMD).”

See Ben Clarke, Training and Education Manager, GS1 UK, at the P4H conference on 9 July 2015 at the ICC, Birmingham.


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