NHS product recalls much more effective through the use of GS1 standards

Traceability, speed and cost of healthcare recalls significantly improved

In a significant milestone for the healthcare industry, the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) has started using Unique Device Identifiers based on GS1 standards in healthcare recalls, improving traceability, efficiency, and cost savings throughout the NHS.

GS1 global standards are being widely adopted by trusts in England in line with the NHS eProcurement Strategy mandate, and the Personalised Health & Care 2020 Strategy, published last year.

This recent move by the MHRA signifies the power of using a single method of coding and identification across the whole industry. Through the implementation of GS1 standards in patient safety alerts, each person, product and place everywhere along the patient pathway can be instantly identified.

This means that, in the event of a healthcare recall, identifying, tracing and recalling defective items is much quicker, cheaper and easier, wherever they are in the healthcare supply chain, within hospitals or even out in the community with patients.

Glen Hodgson, head of healthcare at GS1 UK, said: “Using GS1 standards to uniquely identify every patient, product and place, enables increased patient safety, regulatory compliance and operational efficiency. The use of Unique Device Identifiers presents a major opportunity to speedily identify exactly where products are in case of any safety recalls, as well as reduce any counterfeit products within the healthcare supply chain.”

Andy Crosbie, head of biosciences and implants at the MHRA, added: “In perhaps the first case ever, the Government recently informed the health services about a medical product recall using Unique Device Identifiers. This is a significant milestone for the healthcare industry and it sets the scene for how important patient safety information will be communicated in future. ”

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