OPCS-4

What is OPCS-4?

  • groupings of concepts, with definitions, to classify interventions and surgical procedures for statistical purposes
  • has business rules to maintain integrity of the classification structure and also to provide guidance on how the classification may be used

What does OPCS-4 do?

  • provides the codes to summarise interventions and surgical procedures
  • enables classification of information derived from the patient record at the end of a hospital episode of care
  • focuses on what we want to ‘count’ for statistical and epidemiological analysis as well as reimbursement

Who manages OPCS-4?

NHS Digital develops, maintains and licenses OPCS-4 on behalf of Department of Health.

How is OPCS-4 data used?

Benefits

  • captures snapshots of population health at a point in time and to provide insight on trends, inform public health investments, service planning and to reimburse hospitals for the care they’ve provided
  • hierarchical structure with subdivisions allow statistical presentation of data to enable useful and understandable information to be obtained
  • limited number of categories to facilitate use in a statistical context
  • mutually exclusive categories to reduce the possibility that events may be inadvertently excluded or counted twice (or even more often)

Implementation Plans

OPCS-4 is a fully implemented and embedded NHS standard, mandated for use by Health Care Providers. It forms part of the NHS Standard Contracts.

The Standardisation Committee for Care Information (SCCI) (now  called the Data Coordination Board (DCB)) approved OPCS-4 as an NHS Fundamental Information Standard.

OPCS-4 is updated every three years to facilitate provision of long term statistical trends.

Previous versions are listed below, along with the financial year in which they were mandated for use. The implementation date for each version is always 01 April.

  • OPCS-4.10    Scheduled for 2023
  • OPCS-4.9      2020-2023
  • OPCS-4.8      2017-20
  • OPCS-4.7      2014-17
  • OPCS-4.6      2011-14
  • OPCS-4.5      2009-11
  • OPCS-4.4      2007-09
  • OPCS-4.3      2006-07
  • OPCS-4.2      Up to 31 March 2006

For information on OPCS-4 in the other UK Countries please contact the respective national centre:

The next update to OPCS-4 (OPCS-4.10) is planned for implementation on 01 April 2023. .

Subject to approval by the Data Alliance Partnership Board (DAPB) OPCS-4.10 data files for NHS and system supplier implementation will be available for download from the Technology Reference data Update Distribution (TRUD) service subject to registration and acceptance of the terms and conditions in October 2022.

Change requests to be considered for inclusion in the OPCS-4.10 release, must be submitted via the Request Submission Portal by 1 December 2021.

Please submit your requests as early as possible, so that we can carry out the necessary research and engagement.

When you visit the Request Submission Portal, take a moment to review the OPCS-4 requests that have already been submitted before submitting your own, in case your request is covered by an existing one. Ensure that you submit requests correctly using the Submission Guidelines which are available on the Portal.

The roadmap below provides information about key milestones for the release and indicates which dates are confirmed and which are subject to change.

Products and Resources

Resources and products will be made available below. The roadmap above gives indicative dates when they will be available.

  • Draft Summary of Changes from OPCS 4.9 - OPCS 4.10
  • Final Summary of Changes from OPCS 4.9 - OPCS 4.10 and ISN    
  • OPCS-4.10 Data files  
  • OPCS-4.10 Implementation: Preparing for implementation    
  • OPCS-4.10 Classifications Browser 
  • OPCS-4.10 eVersion
  • National Clinical Coding Standards - OPCS-4 
  • OPCS-4.10 Key Learning Points 
  • OPCS-4.10 Volumes 1-2
  • All associated training materials and guidance
  • The SNOMED CT to OPCS-4 cross-maps  
  • OPCS-4.10 to GTIN cross reference files

Downloading the OPCS-4 System Data Files

OPCS-4 system data files and technical specifications for the NHS and NHS system supplier implementation are available to download from TRUD. You will need to register for the download service, subscribe to the pack needed and agree to the terms of the associated licenses.

GTIN to OPCS-4 code cross reference files are available via TRUD

Maps from SNOMED CT to OPCS-4.9 are available via TRUD

NHS Digital Classifications Browser and eVersion

We provide an online version of OPCS-4 (Classifications Browser) and a downloadable version (eVersions) of ICD-10 and OPCS-4. More information is available on our Classifications Browser and  e-Versions page.

OPCS-4.9 Tabular List Volume I and Alphabetical Index Volume II

The OPCS-4.9 Tabular List Volume I and Alphabetical Index Volume II, for use from 1 April 2020, are available to order from The Stationery Office (TSO) online bookshop priced at £150 or £45 for NHS orders. Information on how to order the books can be found on the TSO Website

OPCS-4 Reference Books

OPCS-4 must be used in combination with the associated Rules, Conventions, Standards and Guidance which are published in the OPCS-4 Reference Book. The Reference Book is updated on a yearly basis and published around January/February on Delen to allow users to familiarise themselves with any changes made to standards that must be used between 01 April and 31 March of each financial year. The current and previous versions of the Reference Books are available in the Resource Library. The financial year which the standards apply to is indicated in the title of the Reference Book. 

You can also access the OPCS-4 Supplementary Information in the Resource Library. This Word document supplements the OPCS-4 standards and contains information about the more complex or less known procedures that are classified within OPCS-4. Coders can build on this supplementary information document by performing their own research and speaking with responsible consultants, clinicians and clinical staff within their Trust. 

Additional guidance can also be found in the Coding Clinic

All OPCS-4 resources can be accessed in the Resource Library

Popular Publications

How can I help to keep OPCS-4 up to date with clinical practice and request a change to the classification?

You can play a part in keeping OPCS-4 up to date by letting us know about new procedures, interventions and changes to clinical practice that impact classification codes via the NHS Digital Request Submission Portal (RSP) Users need to register first to request a change.

Do you work with clinicians and their professional bodies?

The OPCS-4 Development Team works with clinicians and professional bodies to improve/update specialty content. Email the helpdesk, if you would like to explore this option.

How can I tell if a procedure has already been submitted?

Search submitted requests to find out. If your proposal is not recorded, login to NHS Digital RSP; read the Submissions Guidance and complete the form. Registration, if you are a new user, is quick and easy. You may find this example of a successful Request for Change helpful.

How can I get help with my submissions?

If you have any questions about completing the submission form or need advice on the suitability of your suggestion, email the Helpdesk. A member if the OPCS-4 Development Team will contact you.

Key Messages

Will SNOMED CT replace ICD-10 and OPCS-4?

No

SNOMED CT, ICD and OPCS-4 are nationally required standards that serve different but related and complementary purposes. In simple terms, SNOMED CT enables the detailed recording of information to support the provision of care, whereas ICD and OPCS-4 enable the statistically valid counting of diseases, other health conditions, interventions and procedures to support epidemiology and health care management.

Will clinical coders be needed once SNOMED CT has been implemented across the NHS?

Yes

Finished Consultant Episodes (FCEs) are coded by clinical coders, using the classifications products in accordance with national standards. The role of the clinical coder will evolve as electronic patient records (EPRs) become more common and as SNOMED CT and future classifications products (such as ICD-11) are implemented. However, the coding process requires experienced human beings to review the clinical notes, discuss with clinical colleagues and exercise judgement in the application of national standards to ensure that FCEs are coded reliably.

A presentation on how SNOMED CT and clinical coding can work together is available in the Resource Library.

Will Clinical Coding Audit and Training be part of the Data Security and Protection Toolkit?

Yes

Both Acute and Mental Health Trusts are deemed ‘Large Organisations’ in the Data Security and Protection Toolkit (DSPT).

Clinical coders must refer to Data Security Standard 1 in the DSPT Assertion 1.7 Data Quality (Evidence codes 1.7.2, 1.7.3, 1.7.4) for clinical coding audit assertions and evidence requirements.

Clinical coders must refer to Data Security Standard 3 in the DSPT Assertion 3 Training (Evidence code 3.4.3) for clinical coding training, i.e. Specialist Training, assertions and evidence requirements.

Guidance is now available within our Resource Library on the Data Security Standard 3 Training and Data Security Standard 1 Data Quality for Acute and Mental Health Trusts.

For an Organisation to be Satisfactory they must complete all of the mandatory evidence items in their toolkit. Evidence items 1.7.2, 1.7.3 and 1.7.4 (covering clinical coding audit) and 3.4.3 (covering clinical coding training) are mandatory items.

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