The NHS uses two standard coding schemes for clinical classification:
- World Health Organisation (WHO) International Statistical Classification of Disease and Related Health Problems (ICD), for the collecting and reporting of diagnostic data.
- Office of Population Censuses and Surveys (OPCS) Classification of Surgical Operations and Procedures, for the collection and reporting of intervention and procedure data.
The appropriate use of common classifications contributes to the availability and aggregation of consistent, comparable data across the NHS and ensures that it is suitably structured for statistical analysis. It also enables the NHS to meet its international obligations in respect of health returns. Following the introduction of NHS Financial Flows in 2003/2004, the ICD and OPCS classifications provide the underlying data in support of Payment by Results.
Advice to Purchasers
Systems and services classifying data using ICD and/or OPCS must do so using the latest versions of the classifications and must have implemented all relevant Information Standards Notices (ISNs), previously known as Data Set Change Notices (DSCNs), published at the time of the procurement.
When an ICD or OPCS data item is stored, it should be stored along with the version number of the classification scheme used. Implementations of ICD and OPCS should incorporate the absolute validity checks specified within the respective metadata files.
It is important that purchasers obtain a commitment from the supplier to update the system or service with future releases of the standards as they are published. This is outside the scope of a standards questionnaire such as STEP, but should be addressed in the Output Based Specification or other requirements document and in contractual documentation.
Commercial organisations implementing ICD and OPCS must have a current licence for their use.
|ISB 0021||International Classification of Diseases|
|ISB 0084||OPCS Classification of Interventions and Procedures|
Further information on ICD and OPCS including licensing is available via the NHS Classifications Service.