England – Country Profile

England – Country Profile

National Health Service (NHS) in England

eProcurement strategy

In May 2014, the UK Dept. of Health and Social Care published the NHS eProcurement strategy, a policy document supporting the Procurement Development Programme, requiring the adoption of common global standards by NHS providers and their suppliers, throughout their internal and external supply chains.

The key standards required by the strategy for adoption by NHS providers and their suppliers are:

1)  GS1 (for product coding, location coding and data synchronisation);

2)  Peppol (for purchase order, despatch advice and invoice messaging).

The following six NHS Demonstrator Trusts have been selected for central funding and have started implementing the GS1 and Peppol standards in January 2016.

Derby Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust, North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust, Plymouth Hospitals NHS Trust, Royal Cornwall Hospitals NHS Trust and Salisbury NHS Foundation Trust will demonstrate the benefits and challenges they encounter from using the standards.

Peppol requirements for NHS trusts and suppliers

The Peppol standards must be used for electronic purchase order and invoice messages (optional for despatch advice notes) and are required to be exchanged through Peppol Access Points.

Adoption is mandatory for both NHS Trusts and their Suppliers through conditions of contract, as follows:

  • for NHS Trusts through the NHS Standard Contract; and
  • for Suppliers through the NHS Standard Terms and Conditions of Contract for the Supply of Goods and Services, due to be published in September 2016.

These electronic documents will have to be exchanged between two Peppol Access Points, respectively one for the NHS provider and one for their supplier, implementing a ‘four-corner’ model.  NHS trusts and suppliers should select their own preferred Peppol Access Point provider to be connected to all organisations in the Peppol network and to exchange these business messages.

NHS trusts and suppliers are required to register their receiving capabilities in the centralised Peppol SMP that is provided by the Department of Health (DH). For more information, please see DH guidance document  – Registration of Peppol capability

While NHS providers and suppliers also need to comply with GS1 standards, in the event where GS1 identifiers – GTINs and GLNs – are not yet available, Peppol implementations should proceed in the absence of those identifiers, in line with relevant Supplier Compliance Timelines published by DH.

By moving towards the adoption of the GS1 standards and Peppol messaging standards, together with common business processes and business rules, NHS trusts and their suppliers can exchange data automatically without changing their existing IT systems.


NHS Suppliers

Suppliers of medical devices to acute NHS trusts must implement the requirements outlined in the NHS eProcurement strategy, according to the following timeline:

NHS Supplier Compliance Timetable

The following survey has been created for key medical device and in-vitro diagnostic product suppliers to the NHS in England and responses will be used to baseline supplier readiness to implement GS1 and Peppol standards as mandated by the NHS eProcurement strategy:

NSH Supplier Readiness Survey

Suppliers can access the most recent documentation and obtain more information by sending an email to eprocurement@dh.gsi.gov.uk to request access to the DH eXchange online portal where all the supplier facing guidance is available.

Peppol milestones

In line with the NHS eProcurement strategy, DH implemented the following actions in 2015:

1) Carried out an end-to-end demonstration of technology exercise (DoT), including production and transmission of electronic Orders, Despatch Advice notes and Invoices (Q2 2015);

2) Published a specific case study [1] and guidance documents demonstrating how the Peppol processes and technology work within the NHS environment;

The following activities will be carried out during 2016:

1) DH will commence activities as the Peppol Authority for English NHS Trusts, taking responsibility for the governance of the Peppol network;

2) The Crown Commercial Service (CCS) will establish a Framework Agreement for Peppol Access Point providers to commence in October 2016. All NHS Trusts and the wider UK public sector will have access to the Framework Agreement.

Peppol Authority

From October 2016, DH will perform the following activities, acting as the Peppol Authority for English NHS Trusts:

  • On-boarding Access Point providers, providing support for testing and validation
  • Provide a centralised Peppol SMP, listing NHS Trusts and Suppliers capable of receiving Peppol messages
  • Ensure compliance with the Peppol legal framework and policies for Access Point providers
  • Providing guidance and information to NHS Trusts and Suppliers

Frequently Asked Questions

GS1 and Peppol adoption – FAQs

Supplier FAQs


Main contact: scan4safety@dhsc.gov.uk

Technical support: Please route to Primary Contact who will allocate as appropriate


Useful links

NHS eProcurement Strategy

Peppol Case Study

Registration of Peppol Capability

Supplier compliance timeline for medical devices and in-vitro diagnostic devices




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