GS1 UK enhances patient safety as Scan4Safety initiative continues

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HSJ Patient Safety Congress 2022, Manchester, 25 October 2022 – NHS England has announced the re-launch of the pioneering Scan4Safety initiative in England.

First launched in 2016 by the Department of Health and Social Care, the initial Scan4Safety programme saw six NHS Trusts implement GS1 standards to uniquely identify every person, product and place.  

At each of these six trusts, all patients received a unique GS1 barcode on their wristband which would be scanned before each procedure. Any equipment used for that procedure would also be scanned – including implantable medical devices – and recorded against the patient, location and, in some cases caregiver, to enable end-to-end traceability and cohesive, interoperable processes throughout the entire patient pathway.  

Following the successful completion of the two-year programme, the wealth of data and insights accumulated revealed multiple transformative benefits for both patients and staff. Across all participating trusts, GS1 standards and the trusted data they create enabled improved decision making, clinical productivity and supply chain efficiency resulting in the delivery of better and safer patient care.   

As highlighted by the 2020 Scan4Safety evidence report, this included over 140 thousand hours of clinical time being released back into care, almost £5 million in recurrent inventory savings and £9 million of non-recurrent inventory reductions. £9 million of non-recurrent inventory reductions.  

With the NHS facing increasing staffing and supply chain pressures, the use case for GS1 standards has never been stronger. GS1 UK remain fully committed to Scan4Safety and will continue to work closely with NHS leaders, clinicians and key stakeholders to build on the successes and learnings of the initial programme and drive wider adoption of standards across the health service.  

Professor Terence Stephenson, Nuffield Professor at University College London said, “Whilst Scan4Safety has many benefits such as procurement, stock control and location management, for me its real power is the difference it can make to patient safety. Being able to record patients, procedures and places gives us such power to prevent avoidable mistakes in healthcare. 

“This digital solution is a much cleverer and effective way of protecting patients than simply asking healthcare providers, the vast majority of whom are doing incredible work under unimaginable pressure, to simply ‘try harder’. We need global standards to be in place across all four of the devolved nations and the Scan4Safety programme represents a major step in making this a reality.”  

Glen Hodgson, head of healthcare, GS1 UK said: “In the years since the publication of the Scan4Safety report we have seen exceptional progress implementing the programme. First in England, then across Wales and Scotland, and we are now making inroads in Northern Ireland. We welcome today’s announcement and believe the continuation will act as a powerful catalyst for helping more organisations adapt to the challenges of today and build resilience for the future.  

“We are already supporting the next generation of Scan4Safety adopters and will expand this support to any organisation who wish to implement GS1 standards. Collaboration and trusted data are the key to delivering better care for all and we look forward to seeing the impact of the programme in the coming months and years.” 

Notes to editors 

For further information or to request an interview, please contact Alex Cox: 07464946769;                        

About Scan4Safety 

The six demonstrator sites selected by the Department of Health to demonstrate the benefits of GS1 and PEPPOL standards are Derby Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, The Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust, North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust, Plymouth Hospitals NHS Trust, Royal Cornwall Hospitals NHS Trust and Salisbury NHS Foundation Trust. 

About GS1 UK 

Whether online, in store or in a hospital, the common language of GS1 global standards is helping our community of more than 58,000 organisations across the UK to uniquely identify, describe and track anything, creating greater trust in data for everyone. 

From product barcodes to patient wristbands, GS1 standards have been transforming the way we work and live for nearly 50 years. 

GS1 UK is one of 116 neutral and independent GS1 organisations operating worldwide. / @gs1uk