NHS Wales partners with GS1 UK to support traceability across healthcare

NHS Wales has signed a multi-year agreement with not-for-profit standards organisation, GS1 UK to drive the adoption of GS1 standards within healthcare settings across the UK.

NHS Wales becomes the third devolved nation alongside England and Northern Ireland to commit to the adoption of these standards.

WHY IT MATTERS

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This partnership has been driven by the objectives of the Welsh Government’s Plan for Health and Social Care, A Healthier Wales. The plan centres on harnessing existing resources and investing in new technology, to deliver improved outcomes for their patient populations.

Evidence of such outcomes have been seen across NHS trusts in England in the publication, A scan of the benefits: the Scan4Safety evidence report. This partnership aims to deliver these same benefits across the Welsh healthcare system.

The strategic Scan for Safety Wales Project Board, established to manage the rollout, will initially focus on developing a national inventory management system to improve the traceability of healthcare products throughout the supply chain.

This aims to facilitate the identification of defective products to improve the product-recall process which is an important patient safety benefit.

Phase two of the work plan will begin in parallel, to expand the adoption of GS1 standards to encompass the unique identification of every person, product, and place across all NHS Wales organisations.

THE LARGER CONTEXT

According to the Office for National Statistics (ONS), today COVID-19 deaths passed the 5,000 mark in Wales. Although considerably lower than England, data from the Intensive Care National Audit and Research Centre (ICNARC) found that around half of patients admitted to Welsh intensive care units during the second wave of the pandemic have died.

In an interview with Healthcare IT News, Ifan Evans, director of technology, digital & transformation spoke about the Welsh digital strategy and preparing for the current wave.

ON THE RECORD

In a joint statement provided by the Scan for Safety Wales Project Board, co-chairs Dr Paul Buss, director of clinical strategy at Powys Teaching Health Board and Jonathan Irvine, director at NWSSP Procurement and Health Courier Services, said: “We are delighted by the commitment to adopt GS1 standards right across NHS Wales. This is a vital step – improving clinical safety for patients whilst simultaneously modernising our approach to the use and tracking of medical devices.”

Glen Hodgson, head of healthcare at GS1 UK, said: “We are delighted to be collaborating with NHS Wales on their Scan for Safety project. By working together, we can support the project board to deliver enhanced patient safety, reduce unwarranted clinical variation, and improve operational efficiencies across their entire healthcare system.

“Furthermore, because GS1 standards are both system and device agnostic, any data captured can be shared effortlessly between systems and organisations. This is the key to improving the patient care journey – enabling access to accurate patient information in real-time, irrespective of where that care was received.”

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