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SNOMED CT implementation in primary care

The transition from using Read codes in primary care to using SNOMED CT is being managed under the national GPSoC framework.

Publications and forums
Find a range of resources for SNOMED CT implementation in primary care on our Delen website.

Webinars for introducing SNOMED CT in general practice
Select dates and register your place now.

Why primary care needs to migrate to SNOMED CT

Two versions of clinical codes (Read v2 and CTV3) currently exist in General Practice. Not all GP systems use the same coding system.

Parts of the Read code vocabulary are full and new codes have been allocated to unrelated areas. This makes analysis more difficult. 

The NHS needs a single clinical terminology, for clinical data to be exchanged accurately and consistently across all care settings. This will allow better patient care and improve how clinical data can be analysed and reported on.

SNOMED CT is an international clinical terminology. It will allow the UK to take part in more effective research and analysis of health information, to support national and global health care improvements.

When SNOMED CT is being implemented

notice under the Health and Social Care Act 2012 was published in November 2016. It outlined that:

  • SNOMED CT must be adopted by all GPs and in systems used by general practice service providers, before 1 April 2018
  • SNOMED CT must be used in place of the Read codes (Read v2 and CTV3) before 1 April 2018. 

The four principal clinical system suppliers, EMIS, TPP, Vision and Microtest, are currently designing their solutions. They can transition to SNOMED CT once they have been assured as clinically safe. 

The implementation schedule is likely to be phased and depends on supplier progress and deployment schedule.

Visit the principal clinical system supplier (PCS) roadmap.

The timeline below shows high-level milestones and activity between April 2016 and April 2018, plus the final release dates of the current Read v2 and CTV3 clinical vocabularies.

SNOMED CT in primary care timeline

How SNOMED CT is being implemented

NHS Digital is supporting suppliers and primary care end data users during the transition, with implementation guidance and a range of  guidance and resources including publications, training and forums

A subset of SNOMED CT will be available at first, to reflect the current content of Read codes. This allows both SNOMED CT and Read codes to be held in the clinical system during transition.

This will allow suppliers to move at different times and to ensure that the move to SNOMED CT is as seamless as possible.

Education and training

Suppliers of the clinical system will provide user system training, with their preferred training tools. Any queries should be directed to the GP system supplier.

NHS Digital provides training to help users learn more about SNOMED CT and the transition. Please:

More information

Visit the following for extra help:

  • NHS Networks allows you to connect with communities of NHS professionals, for events and webinars.
  • SNOMED CT
  • GP Systems of Choice is a contractual framework to supply IT systems and services to GP practices and associated organisations in England.
  • Email our helpdesk on SNOMED CT implementation in primary care

Have a question? Call us on 0300 303 5678 or contact enquiries@nhsdigital.nhs.uk.

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