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SNOMED CT is the information standard for clinical terminology; it is an international standard published by SNOMED International providing a global common language for health terms.

About this information standard

The policy document, Personalised Health and Care 2020: A Framework for Action, published by the National Information Board (NIB) in November 2014, identified SNOMED CT as the required terminology to support direct management of care.

SNOMED CT was first published as an information standard by the Information Standards Board (ISB) in August 2011, the original documents remain on the ISB website.

This latest release seeks to ensure that its implementation is planned to coincide with national requirements in relation to electronic records. There are three elements to the change:

  1. Confirmation of the timescales for the cessation of SNOMED CT releases in Release Format 1 (RF1) and the subsequent move to releases only being provided in Release Format 2 (RF2). All existing users (including any social care providers) will need to change to RF2.
  2. Conversion of the current information standard to align with the requirements of the Health and Social Care Act 2012. This includes the provision of Implementation Guidance.
  3. Confirmation of application of this standard in specified operational settings including implementation dates in alignment with national policy.

This information standard is published under section 250 of the Health and Social Care Act 2012. An Information Standards Notice (see below) provides an overview of scope and implementation timescales and the other listed documents provide further detail for those who have to implement the information standard.

Update 7 May 2020

Uplift of key and supporting documentation

The requirement for all health and care systems to use SNOMED CT has not changed.

The ability to flow patient data electronically and safely between health and care systems remains a high priority. Since December 2019, this objective has been achieved in General Practice. The requirement to enable SNOMED CT content in secondary, dentistry and optometry care systems in 2020 is still to be fully achieved; although it is known that many providers have SNOMED CT enabled EPR systems in place.

Recognising this is the case, the Data Coordination Board has approved an application by NHS Digital, in conjunction with NHSX, to uplift the key and supporting documentation to enable further progress of SNOMED CT implementation across health and care systems.

The information in the Requirements Specification, Change Specification, Implementation Guidance and User Guide has been refreshed to ensure links to current guidance and information are correct; clarifications have been made based on feedback from those systems that have adopted SNOMED CT; additional advice has been provided on the support available to help implementation. Note that there are no fundamental changes to the standard itself.

The updated documents (marked as Version 2.0) are available in the Releases table on this page.

It is expected that all secondary, dentistry and optometry service providers will have detailed plans in place with an associated implementation schedule for SNOMED CT by 31 December 2020.  These plans will be required by NHSX and NHS England and NHS Improvement as part of provider planning activity.

If you have any queries about this, please contact NHS Digital at [email protected]

Update 18 January 2018

SNOMED International update regarding LOINC (from the SNOMED International Business Meeting, 19-20 October 2017, Bratislava)

In October 2017, SNOMED International ratified the UK requirement for developing content in specific areas of pathology and laboratory medicine and ratified the application of clause 5.2 of the IHTSDO-Regenstrief collaboration agreement (2013). This development reinforces the Department of Health and Social Care mandate for the implementation and use of SNOMED CT as the clinical terminology for use in health and care clinical systems across the NHS. It means that SNOMED CT can be used in all areas of pathology, including laboratory sciences and other diagnostics; thereby removing the need for NHS Organisations and their suppliers to use LOINC.

The Data Coordination Board is pleased to endorse this approach, recognising the benefit of supporting the consistent development of SNOMED CT content across all areas of pathology and diagnostics.

If you have any queries about this, please contact NHS Digital at [email protected]

1As of 1 February 2023, NHS Digital has merged with NHS England to bring together one single organisation, referred to as NHS England. As a result, the URL for Delen - the information sharing and collaboration platform for users of Terminology and Classifications products - has migrated from to

Links in the documents above have been corrected to ensure continuity of access. No other changes have been made.


An Addendum for SCCI0034 Amd 35/2016 was published on 2 August 2017 to clarify the expectations placed on system suppliers in relation to the implementation of SNOMED CT. This is now out of date, following the publication of update guidance documents in 2020, and is included here for historic reference only.

Advance Notification

An Advance Notification for SCCI0034 Amd 35/2016 was published on 12 May 2016. This is now out-of-date, following the publication of the Information Standards Notice, and is included here for historic reference only:

Last edited: 9 February 2023 3:19 pm