NHS Wales has committed to the adoption of GS1 standards after signing a multi-year agreement.

The agreement sees NHS Wales becoming the third devolved nation – alongside England and Northern Ireland – to commit to the adoption of such standards which help to underpin traceability across healthcare.

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 how healthcare products throughout the supply chain are traced.

In a joint statement provided by the board, co-chairs Dr Paul Buss, director of clinical strategy at Powys Teaching Health Board and Jonathan Irvine, director NHS Wales Shared Services Partnership 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”.

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

Glen Hodgson, head of healthcare at GS1 UK, added: “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.”