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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

SNOMED CT will go live in general practice care in a phased approach from April 2018. 

The phased approach will:

  • enable systems to preserve both SNOMED CT and Read Codes for a period of time to support the transition and implementation planning
  • ensure national specifications that are provided in SNOMED CT can be supported while suppliers roll-out their solutions
  • ensure that new clinical content for general practice that is released in SNOMED CT can be recorded and processed by all end users during the implementation

The deployment rollout will commence with pilot sites for the four principal clinical system suppliers, EMIS, TPP, Vision and Microtest. This will commence from April 2018 with a phased roll-out approach ensuring year-end processes can be completed prior to implementation.  

The timeline below shows the high-level milestones. 

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 is available that reflects the current content of Read Codes. This will enable both SNOMED CT and Read Codes to be held in the clinical system during the transition (referred to as dual coding). This approach will mean existing searches, protocols and templates can continue to be used for a period of time after the system has switched to SNOMED CT for data entry.

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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