Plymouth lays foundation for NHS savings with GS1 milestone

Brussels 17.02.2017

Scan4Safety demonstrator site on target to reduce waste and increase efficiency by achieving transaction information milestone with support of NHS Shared Business Services and Global Health Exchange (GHX).

Plymouth Hospitals NHS Trust has achieved a major financial transaction milestone as part of the NHS drive to use GS1 standards to allow every NHS hospital in England to save an average of £3 million annually through improved patient safety, greater regulatory compliance and widespread operational efficiencies.

As the largest acute teaching hospital in the South West, serving a population of over 2 million, the Trust is one of six NHS demonstrator sites selected as part of the Department of Health’s Scan4Safety strategy. The strategy mandates NHS acute trusts to use GS1 barcoding standards, similar to those used in retail, to accurately identify patients, products and places within a trust.

Now, working with business support specialist NHS Shared Business Services (NHS SBS) and healthcare technology company Global Healthcare Exchange (GHX), the Trust has streamlined the payment and product identification process for suppliers. This will help both the Trust and NHS reduce waste across the ‘Purchase to Pay’ process by using up-to-date catalogue information managed by suppliers. In turn, suppliers will know exactly which products they are expected to deliver to the trusts.

Plymouth’s Scan4Safety work supports the delivery of key operational objectives by simplifying processes which releases staff time to frontline care to aid patient safety by identifying the right product for the right patient.

Plymouth chief executive and Scan4Safety programme board member Ann James, 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.”

NHS SBS managing director David Morris, said: “This is rightly seen as a great advance on the Scan4Safety journey. Plymouth is leading the way in using accepted standards from other industries to improve patient safety, and this has been achieved through successful collaboration. This once again shows how the NHS can excel at more efficient ways of working when they are implemented in the right way.”

GHX UK country manager James Thirkill, added: “Partnering with Plymouth on the e-commerce foundation for standards implementation, including the ability to track orders and measure performance in Scan4Safety, has provided the ability to hold, store and then use GS1 standards. This in turn can help enable faster rollout of these capabilities right across the NHS. The success of this pilot means that Plymouth has created a compliance platform which every other trust can now use and benefit from.”

Future plans for the Trust include using GS1 standards within trauma and orthopaedics, so that theatre teams can track products such as knee and hip implants used by each patient and so support faster product recall, and more efficient inventory management.

Plymouth is also sharing its experiences with other demonstrator sites as part of best practice materials to help enable other trusts to implement GS1 standards in the most efficient way possible.


Notes to editor


NHS Shared Business Services (NHS SBS) is the market leader in business support services for the NHS. They provide Finance & Accounting, Employment Services and Procurement services, delivering operational efficiencies and improved service quality as well as real cost savings, of on average 30%, for its NHS clients.

Established in 2005, NHS SBS is a 50/50 joint venture between the Department of Health and Sopra Steria Limited. The organisation now provides financial services to 100% of all NHS Commissioning organisations and a range of business support services for around 50% of NHS Provider Trusts.

NHS SBS currently employs over 1,750 people who bring a unique mix of NHS and commercial expertise. NHS SBS is on-course to achieve £1 billion of cost savings to the NHS by 2020, having achieved its original 10-year target of £224 million of cost savings, a year earlier than planned in 2014. To date we have delivered over £400 million savings to the NHS. 

Media Contacts

Rob Benson, Highland Marketing – on behalf of NHS Shared Business Services
T: +44 (0)1877 381122
M: +44 (0)7824 141204

Susan Venables, Highland Marketing on behalf of NHS Shared Business Services
Tel: +44 (0)1877 339922
Mob: +44 (0)7971 166936

About Plymouth Hospitals NHS Trust

Plymouth Hospitals is the largest hospital trust in the south west peninsula and provides comprehensive secondary and tertiary healthcare and offer a full range of general hospital services to around 450,000 people in Plymouth, North and East Cornwall and South and West Devon. These include emergency and trauma services, maternity services, paediatrics and a full range of diagnostic, medical and surgical sub-specialties.

In January 2016 the Department of Health announced that Plymouth Hospitals NHS Trust had been selected to act as one of the six demonstrator sites of excellence for the use of GS1 and PEPPOL standards. This award came following the submission of an Outline Business Case (OBC) detailing the Trust's commitment and outlining its approach to the two year piece of work. 

For any queries regarding the Scan4Safety journey at Plymouth, please contact:

Name: Richard Price
Title: Scan4Safety Programme Manager
01752 432913

Name: Sophie Reid
Title: Scan4Safety Project Manager
01752 432813

Name: Sandie Wills
Title: Scan4Safety Project Manager
01752 432093

About GHX

Global Healthcare Exchange, LLC (GHX) drives costs out of healthcare with cloud-based supply chain management technology and services to help enable better patient care and savings by maximizing automation, efficiency, and accuracy of business processes. GHX Europe offers healthcare providers and suppliers an open and neutral electronic trading exchange that delivers procurement and accounts payable automation, contract and inventory management, business intelligence, payment management and other supply chain-related tools and services. For more information, visit and The Healthcare Hub.   

For any queries regarding GHX, please contact:
Name: Margot Drees
Title: Executive Director, Global Strategy
+32 477 88 44 62