More on the NHS GS1 Demonstrators Programme – Readers’ Comments

Our report on the award of the GS1 “demonstrator” status to six NHS hospitals drew a large number of interesting and informed comments from our readers. A couple were positive, but several were critical of various aspects of the process. There was comment on the strange geographical distribution (which we highlighted); questions about whether this really was “the best” six hospitals and some confusion about the process for selection, which does not seem to have been very transparent. Here are some of the highlights from the comments – but do read the whole set here.

Mark Lainchbury took issue with our comment that the geographical dispersion meant visiting the chosen sites would not be easy.

“It’s not a seed drill & we aren’t going to troop down there every week to pat Jethro on the back, and compliment him on his nice straight rows. These Trusts are going to have £12 million thrown at them to see if Bar-Coding can deliver a decent ROI in the real world NHS ... It’s a once in a lifetime opportunity and the present piecemeal implementations (bar-codes on Medical Records folders, Equipment I.D. Plates, Patient wrist bands, Theatre procedure trays, Room Numbers, Deliveries & Consumables usage) need to be linked together”.

Nicola Hall (from one of the interested solution providers) said this:

“The GS1 program is an excellent program. It’s about getting the basics in place for track and trace that will be the basis of gaining efficiencies. The NHS is way behind the commercial sector in utilising solutions and data standards to gain efficiency of the bottom line, especially in the back office arena. We wish all the demonstrator sites well in their projects of course. However, the choices do seem odd and especially the geographical spread. Perhaps the DOH could publish their selection criteria”?

Dave Coley from the Heart of England Trust gave us this;

“My Business Case (purely for a stock system) at Heart of England was based on £100m pa spend of in scope product and covered hard cash and soft non-cash up to £2m over 2 years. I think there are some decent case studies already and we intend to add to the empirical evidence based and publish a paper …”

LM provided two lengthy comments which need full consideration really, but a flavour:

“Has the DoH done enough to raise the profile of GS1 to trust boards? Out of 250 trusts, only 50 (or so) put forward adoption plans for the (extended) deadline. Of the 50, about 30 (or so) expressed an interest in being given a chance to ‘compete’ against their peers to become one of just six trusts to win an equal share of £2m. The average ‘bid’ from each of the 12 finalists was about £1.94m, because the DoH told everyone, including the entire consultancy market, that the budget per trust would be £2m. Shock/horror that each bid was so close to the budget.

And this, from the Procurement, Investment and Commercial Division (PICD) of the DoH. The PAC would relish tearing holes in this process to find the vfm, especially the initial £1m spent on three consultancy firms who wrote the 12 business cases (‘bids’) to be evaluated by interims in secrecy in Skipton House. (The evaluation criteria were vague, at best.)”

Some Trusts may not have been chosen because they are already ahead of the curve: “There are trusts Portsmouth as a prime example that have been setting the pace and acting as demonstrator sites for some time”, says Nicola Hall.

We also had a comment we can't attribute via LinkedIn:

"I think many in the NHS are ignoring this program now - as many NHS procurement heads I have spoken to since this was "leaked" feel that this whole exercise now has "little weight with such strange choices". Most are now doing their own thing anyway and ignoring the programme."

LM had the final word, at time of writing anyway. (We honestly don’t know who this is, by the way)!

“I think that the final six represent some of the better trusts (in the top 50) and there is no doubt that Leeds would have been in any top six, but there are so many notable absentees. Not a single London trust was shortlisted (or even encouraged I hear) to enter this ridiculous bidding process. And not a single trust in the North West. Not a single Shelford Group trust either… Leeds will need to rent a conference centre because it will be the only hospital that anyone will want to visit (and that isn’t because of convenience) …

The DoH should have ‘selected’ 12 exceptional trusts and given them £1m each (more than enough) to establish their status as international exemplars in demonstrating track and trace. This is pathetic and a waste of taxpayers’ monies.

While the rest of the leadership teams in the centre are trying to eradicate (or at least reduce) competition, PICD is demonstrating that they are completely divorced from reality by forcing a competition between providers. And guess what I heard this week? PICD brought all the winners and losers together into a room and said “let’s work together”. The losers (without the £2m in funds) must be feeling completely bewildered, and very disillusioned”.

Voices (3)

  1. Mark Lainchbury:

    Whilst I do agree with some the above (& consider inventory management for the NHS a complete waste of time & money)

    I would just ask LM “what’s your alternative”, because the present identification systems (of patients, procedures, products & places) certainly aren’t cutting it.

    http://www.theguardian.com/society/2016/feb/18/serious-errors-such-as-operating-on-wrong-patient-still-occurring-in-nhs

    1. LM:

      GS1 is the right thing to do.
      This is not the right way to do it.

  2. LM:

    Thank you for this Peter.

    Herewith a summary of the current rumours floating through the health system:

    – this is a shocking waste of taxpayers money (and of front-line resources) at a time when trusts are facing unprecedented deficits

    – to repeat, 190 trusts out of 240 did not respond to the DoH deadline of submitting GS1 adoption plans, emphasising that this wasn’t really a priority at the front-line of the NHS

    – only 30 or so trusts expressed an interest in becoming a GS1 demonstrator

    – numerous trusts expended considerable effort (and costs) in pulling together a submission to try and get themselves on to the long-list of 12

    – a number of these trusts spent considerable sums with consultants (or third parties) to help them develop their submissions just to try and guarantee that they would be on the long-list

    – some trusts did not spend anything and submitted a proposal on the “back of a fag packet” to try and get on to the long-list

    – at least one trust in the latter category was successful in being long-listed

    – a trust (in the North) with a significant evidence-base and track record in adopting GS1 was short-listed

    – a trust (in the South) with a significant evidence-base and track record in adopting GS1 wasn’t short-listed

    – the total estimated cost to taxpayers of this self-made monster will be equal to at least £50m (£13m budget of DH [£1m shelled out to consultants plus £12m to six final trusts] + £1m paid to interims in DoH + 30 trusts at av £100k per trust [conservative est’ of total management time/clinical time in first phase] = £3m + 12 trusts at av £1m per trust [conservative est’ of total management time/clinical time] = £12m + £9m [234 trusts at min £40k per trust [conservative est’ of total management time/clinical time/travel costs/advisory/consultancy costs visiting the six demonstrators] + £12m [est’ cost to six unsuccessful trusts who will be pressured into implementing their proposed plans without DoH funding]

    – to reinforce, one trust described how “dozens of senior stakeholders in the trust were engaged in the submission” (to amplify the cost/resource effort at trust-level)

    – the DoH promised that the 12 submissions or ‘business cases’ would be published in January – we are still waiting

    – cost to NHS will be at least £300m (150 acute hospitals at £2m per trust)

    – cost to industry to adopt GS1 has not been determined but the estimate ranges between £1-2bn (for the avoidance of doubt, that’s ‘billions’) which industry will seek to recover through increased product prices

    – three of the trusts on the final six selected by the DoH were supported by the same consultancy

    – there is not a single permanent civil/public servant employed in the e-procurement team in the DoH amplifying the absence of any day to day accountability or even ‘qualified professional scrutiny or oversight’. There are at least three management layers of external resource management i.e.: one interim reports into another interim who reports into another interim.

    – one interim/contractor took a trip to Arizona (paid for by GHX it is rumoured but not confirmed?) but still works in the team despite this trip and conflict of interest being publicly exposed on this blog illustrating the lack of control and governance over this team

    I remain shocked that the NAO finds any of this acceptable

Discuss this:

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *