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Primary Care Pathology Report Messaging

NHS Digital supports the digital reporting of pathology test results from NHS labs to GPs, amounting to approximately 50 million reports per year.

NHS Digital supports the digital reporting of pathology test results from NHS labs to GPs, amounting to approximately 50 million reports per year. These messages are transferred using Message Exchange for Social care and Health (MESH). The message standard used for this data flow is defined as an NHS information standard (ISB 1557). The data used within this message is called the Pathology Bounded Code List or PBCL.

In support of the data quality within these messages, NHS Digital provides the National Message Assurance Service or NMAS.

Pathology Bounded Code List

The Pathology Bounded Code List (PBCL), was developed to provide a defined or bounded subset of Read Codes for use in lab to GP messaging.

Using the PBCL would ensure a common understanding by both sending and receiving clinicians of the laboratory investigations performed.

The PBCL subset of Read Codes contains additional guidance on use of the codes, such as whether a code can be a test or a battery of tests.

Trust pathology Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) software, developed against the Pathology Messaging Implementation Programme (PMIP) technical product set, will be able to make use of this additional guidance information to assist laboratories in their mapping of local investigation codes.

For a full explanation of the purpose and use of the PBCL and the structure of the file, readers should refer to the documentation within the PMIP Technical Products and the latest release notes included in the NHS UK Read Pathology Bounded Code List releases located on Technology Reference data Update Distribution (TRUD) as a subpack.

The latest release of the PBCL

The last release of the PBCL was 01 October 2017 (version 1.036), released as part of the October 2017 Clinical Terms (The Read Codes) release.

Please note: There have been no subsequent releases of the PBCL to date.  Version 1.036 continues in use.

Users should refer to the documentation in the release pack for more detail on changes and additions.

To obtain the October 2017 latest version of the PBCL please register on TRUD.

Whilst the latest release of PBCL continues to be available since the final release of Read CTV3 in April 2018, it will only be updated on an ad hoc basis where there is an identified national need.

National Messaging Assurance Service

The National Messaging Assurance Service (NMAS) is a fully automated service that provides:

  • message checking - checks the validity of inbound messages without any knowledge of what data content was expected by the message sender
  • laboratory implementation testing - incorporates message checking but mainly tests inbound messages against a predetermined data content
  • clinical governance message checking - the same as message checking it is used to ensure ongoing quality of a laboratory's Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) pathology reports implementation
  • General Practice testing - test request
  • General Practice testing - response analysis

This service was officially closed down on 9th December and was replaced with NMAS-R.

NMAS came to an end because it was built on technologies and software which were no longer supported. Differences between the old service and the new are that: 

  • NMAS-R can only send reports to NHSmail accounts - laboratory personnel can find out about registering for an account at the NHSmail support site
  • NMAS-R currently provides both message checking and clinical governance message checking - the remaining services will be re-introduced during further stages of development work

Messaging Exchange for Social Care and Health

The Message Exchange for Social care and Health (MESH) is the main messaging service used across health and social care. It works on the Spine infrastructure. It's used to transfer electronic messages directly from one application to another, so different organisations can communicate securely.

Last edited: 20 October 2020 8:28 am