What is the National Sales Vocabulary (NSV)

The NSV system, database, software and website are CIL’s core product. It consists of over 550000 unique products and services described in a standardized, consistent format – coded in a hierarchical structure.

The NSV system also cross-references supplier product codes, manufacturer & brand data, pack sizes, and GS1 codes to each NSV code where known. Also included for most NSV codes are mappings to the Common Procurement Vocabulary (CPV), the United Nations Standard Products & Services Code (UNSPSC) and NHS-eClass.

Although many descriptions are of medical products the database can be used by all types of public and private organisations.

What are the main benefits of Using NSV

By using NSV for the Procurement Record all the data is then able to be aggregated so that full procurement history can be researched to show the what is being bought, from whom and at what price. This in turn creates the following benefits:

• Contract tendering based on accurate usage information possibly leading to lower prices

• Transparent pricing information to be shared with other trusts

• Collaboration with other trusts on contracting to gain the best prices form bulk ordering

• Rationalisation of products, leading to placing fewer orders for higher quantities

• Zero tolerance on invoice checking to ensure correct contract prices are paid

• Overall cash savings should be possible of 5-20% or £0.5m to £1m per trust

Is NSV unique?

Most procurement systems e.g. CPV, UNSPSC, NHS-eClass are headings only and give very little useful information. Only the NSV system includes descriptions at item level e.g. a full description of a chair where price and specification can be compared exactly from different suppliers.

Who needs NSV?

Large organisations who have a need for a procurement department owing to high spend on many products or services. This can include public or private organisations. They are all accountable to either the public or shareholders and need to show everything was efficient and above board and accountable by using a an accurate audit trail.

Does anyone else provide NSV


Some management consultants can offer a coding or heading service, but only as an additional service from staff that little or no experience in coding. CIL specialise in procurement coding and have the history and staff expertise to provide the service with the full experience usually required.

What are the main problems with GS1 and manufactured NHS products

  • Very few suppliers to the NHS use GS1 numbers to identify their products
  • The GS1 is pack size specific, meaning different quantities have different GS1s
  • Gaining and using data from products with GS1 numbers and integrating the information with suppliers that do not, is difficult
  • The GS1 cannot be easily used to compare prices on the same products from the same or different supplier
  • Using GS1 information to improve efficiency and make cash savings has also proved difficult

There is only one way to link all the information, and that is to use a Standardised Code and Description, the National Supply Vocabulary, which was created for the NHS and is still in use today*.

How Does GS1 work with NSV

Linking GS1 numbers to NSVs code means that you can link all the information related to a standardised description, overcoming the problems of GS1 codes being pack size and manufacturer specific.

This is the key to creating accurate procurement history on all products and services which can aid benchmarking prices, standardisation, rationalisation and reduced spend. This is how the £500 million savings per annum by the NHS, estimated by the NAO in their report, ‘The procurement of consumables by NHS acute and Foundation trusts’ can be made.

How can GS1 be linked to NHS-eClass

In the example above it is shown that all GS1 codes can be linked to a NSV code whether they are for static product, or more complex information. Once the GS1 information is linked to a NSV code the product and quantity is correctly identified, it can then be used on the procurement history record. As each NSV code is matched to a NHS-eClass code, a management report in NHS-eClass format should be easy to produce.