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Published July 2020
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Case Study

University Hospitals Plymouth NHS Trust uses GS1 standards in stock replenishment for greater patient safety

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Key Results

£38,000 worth of expiring stock returned to suppliers

Staff cost of a product recall incident is down to £9.59 from £83.61

The problem

The University Hospitals Plymouth NHS Trust (UHP) had a number of issues with it’s stock replenishment strategy for clinical areas.

The system was prone to error. It was largely paper-based and relied heavily on manual input. In some cases, reordering would not take place — risking cancelled operations or costly last-minute replacements.

Following a stocktake, carried out when the old system was in place, issues were raised around stock expiring on the shelf, inaccurate paper records, and lengthy product recall processes.

"The overwhelming brief for this project is patient safety. Scanning products before surgery improves this by reducing the risk of human error and, due to automatic electronic stock replacement processes, reduces the likelihood of operations being cancelled. Staff morale has also been increased because people who are designed to care for patients can spend more time caring for patients, rather than on the reordering and re-equipping of stores."

Mark Brinsden (Trauma and Orthopaedic Consultant)

The solution

GS1 standards were introduced to trace patients, products, and locations. Encoded in GS1 barcodes, they are scanned at the point of care in theatres.

They trace the patient to the product, and the exact location of care, providing a thorough and automated solution.

By electronically tracing products to patients, it allows those affected by a product recall to be identified much quicker than before. This reduces the amount of time that clinical staff spend locating recalled stock and identifying patients.

The results

The implementation of GS1 standards means that UHP is now able to manage products more effectively using an automated replenishment process. Stock is less likely to be missing when it’s needed most and fewer operations are cancelled as a result.

Products on the shelf with expiration dates within six months have been reduced to 4% of the total stock. Additionally, £38,000 worth of expiring stock was returned to suppliers following the introduction of the solution.

The product recall process has been transformed, too. Where a recall could take up to 6 hours to implement under the old system, it can now be done in as little as 42 minutes.

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