NHS Scotland has signed a five-year agreement with GS1 UK to help drive the rollout of standards within provider organisations across the country.

Working with the standards organisation, NHS Scotland is looking to use GS1 standards to enable them to identify, track, and trace products (namely medicines and medical devices), in conjunction with requirements laid out in The Medicines and Medical Devices Act (The MMDA) which came into force in 2021.

Furthermore, in March 2021, NHS National Services Scotland (NSS) selected Genesis Automation for a five-year strategic initiative to deploy a new inventory management system (IMS) in hospitals across the country.

This will mean GS1 standards such as the Global Trade Item Number (GTIN) – the barcode number – within the IMS will enable products to be traced. This means products can be recalled faster and result in better patient safety.

Part of the agreement will also mean NSS will have access to GS1 UK’s LocationManager, which will mean products can be tracked from the point of manufacture directly to the location of use at the point of care.

Jonathan Cameron, director of digital health and care for the Scottish Government, said: “We are delighted to be working in partnership with GS1 UK to increase the adoption of GS1 standards – the aim being to enhance patient safety, reduce unwarranted clinical variation and drive operational efficiencies in Scotland.

“Driving greater transparency and interoperability into our healthcare system will not only provide us with the data needed, but we will also be able to inform clinical decision making which is a critical driver for improvement.

“The implementation of GS1 standards will go a long way towards delivering our goal of the provision of even safer and more efficient care for our patient population.”

NHS Scotland becomes the latest devolved nation – alongside England, Northern Ireland, and more recently Wales – to commit to the widespread adoption of GS1’s standards, which provide a common language in healthcare. Such standards can help underpin systems, and processes to ensure data flow for every patient, irrespective of the care setting.

Glen Hodgson, head of healthcare at GS1 UK, added: “Because GS1 standards are both system and device agnostic, they allow for the seamless exchange of information beyond both system and organisational boundaries. This is the key to achieving traceability in healthcare and it is here where the true value lies.

“We look forward to collaborating with the Scottish Government and NHS Scotland as part of this partnership, to support the execution of their strategic healthcare objectives over the next few years.”