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Common clinical language for the NHS

Better patient safety through electronic communication between clinicians has been secured by the adoption of a common clinical language across all healthcare settings and organisations.

Nurses, doctors, physiotherapists are now using SNOMED Clinical Terms (CT), to exchange information across England. 

The Information Standards Board for Health and Social Care has approved this as a fundamental standard and notified all NHS organisations, independent providers and information system suppliers of the need to use SNOMED CT when providing care.

SNOMED CT is available in more than 50 countries including the US, Canada, Australia, Spain, Sweden and the Netherlands. It is already widely used in the UK for the exchange of clinical information, including the Choose and Book service for hospital appointments and for patients' Summary Care Records.

Health Minister, Simon Burns said: "A common clinical language means nurses and doctors in all care settings can deliver a more effective and safer healthcare system. The adoption of SNOMED CT is an important milestone and will mean clearer and consistent communication between hospitals and GPs. Having a standard language also helps patients better understand their care records."

Dr Charles Gutteridge, National Clinical Director for Informatics at the Department of Health and Medical Director, Barts and the London NHS Trust said:

"SNOMED CT allows the transmission of information between any part of the health system. The terms are easy for clinicians to use and can be understood by patients and their families. This approval will ensure a standard way of transmitting information about patients and I hope that all clinicians will accelerate the use of this terminology for the benefit of the patients we care for."

NHS Connecting for Health