ghp August 2015 | 43 NHS The conference, which was the second annual event, was held in June with a particular focus on the pro- gress and impact of the Department of Health’s ePro- curement strategy which was published last year. The strategy, published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition govern- ment, specifically recommended GS1 standards be implemented in order to improve patient safety and procurement efficiency. This involves the use of GS1’s barcodes, which allow products and implants to be traced back to the source, ensuring that problems such as the PIP breast implant scandal are never repeated. Glen Hodgson, Head of Healthcare at GS1 UK, explained how the identification process works. “We set the standards that can uniquely identify in healthcare, every person, every product and every place. A person can be a patient but importantly it can be a care giver too. A product can be anything from a surgical instrument that can be traced and tracked where it was used and to whom, to a device such as an implant, a heart pacemaker or a breast implant. A place could be a hospital, a ward, a bed or an ICU centre. We use the standards to identify who did what to whom, where, when and with what.” This enables enhanced patient safety, with the standards ensuring that any issues can be traced back to the exact place and person responsible. The implementation of standards also allows improved procurement efficiency and reduced wastage, with NHS Trusts able to see exactly what they have allocated and where. Additionally, Trusts are able to comply more easily with legislation, for example the UDI, Unique Device Identification Legislation, con- ceived by the IMDRF (International Medical Device Regulator Forum), the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the European Commission to ensure all medical devices within the healthcare supply chain are marked and identifiable. The conference aimed to bring together NHS Trusts to discuss best illustrated practice of the imple- mentation of GS1 standards following numerous recommendations from senior healthcare officials, including being mandated in the Personalised Health and Care 2020 framework, designed to act as an outline of how the NHS should use technology and data to improve patient care and the overall effectiveness of the service. “The GS1 standards, which include the unique iden- tification of patients, products and places, as well as Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) tagging, make a well-evidenced contribution in health and care. These international standards have been shown to improve patient safety and quality of care by minimising the risk of errors occurring, and are also used for more effective and efficient supply chain management, resulting in significant cost savings. In order to maximise the opportunity that technology of- fers to promote safe care and productivity, NHS Eng- land will, with the HSCIC, develop a joint approach to implement the GS1 standards across the health and care system. They will feature from April 2016 within the NHS England commissioning framework and relevant system specifications.” This high profile recommendation and impressive programme led to representatives from over 40 NHS Trusts, in total a little over 250 guests, to attend the conference. The conference opened with a speech from John Warrington, Deputy Director of Procure- ment at the Department of Health, who emphasised that GS1 standards are essential in order to deliver the Five Year Forward View of the service. There was a broad range of perspectives among the speakers at the conference, with NHS National Patient Champion, Ashley Brooks, Head of Stake- holder and Cultural Transformation at NHS England, Sam Sherrington, and The Right Honourable Lord Philip Hunt - all offering their opinions on how GS1 standards can help the NHS, particularly focusing on cultural change. There was also an opportunity for Trusts to highlight their successes in implementing GS1 standards, which Hodgson pinpointed as one of the highlights of the conference. “One of the things we were absolutely delighted with at the conference was that we were able to join together the people who have really been exemplars of GS1 standards in the hospital trusts, such as Derby, Cambridge with other trusts, and allow them to share their successes with the wider NHS. Often there’s just not a forum for sharing best practice, so the thing that pleased me most was watching a Trust member demonstrate and be very proud of the solu- tion he’s put forward and have him questioned by his peers. It was a fabulous exchange of best practice that will now really help underline the momentum that is there. It’s all well and good for the government to say that we need change but it needs to happen out on the ground, in the Trusts where they are now seeing the benefits.” The conference brought about a number of interest- ing developments for GS1. The day after the confer- ence was held, on June 11th, the Lord Carter Review was released in which GS1 standards are specifically recommended to improve the structure of the NHS. “The introduction of GS1 and PEPPOL standards will allow every NHS hospital in England to save on av- erage of up to £3 million each year, while improving patient care.” In light of the conference, Hodgson was invited to an audience with the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Health, and sponsor of the Lord Carter Review, Lord David Prior, where Hodgson was able to discuss with him about the benefits of GS1 standards for the NHS and Lord Prior was able to reaffirm the new Government commitment to the Department of Health’s strategy. The outcome of the conference illustrates just a tiny proportion of the mass industry support that GS1 standards have, highlighting their importance for the ongoing improvement of the NHS, which will benefit both hospital Trusts, healthcare supplies and patients alike.