SNOMED CT is a structured clinical vocabulary for use in an electronic health record. It is the most comprehensive and precise clinical health terminology product in the world, forming an integral part of the electronic care record. It represents care information in a clear, consistent, and comprehensive manner.


The move to a single terminology, SNOMED CT, for the direct management of care of an individual, across all care settings in England, is recommended by the National Information Board (NIB), in ‘Personalised Health and Care 2020: A Framework for Action‘.

The benefits of using SNOMED CT in electronic care records:

  • vital information can be shared consistently within and across health and care settings
  • comprehensive coverage and greater depth of details and content for all clinical specialities and professionals
  • it includes diagnosis and procedures, symptoms, family history, allergies, assessment tools, observations, devices
  • clinical decision making is supported
  • it facilitates analysis to support more extensive clinical audit and research
  • reduced risk of misinterpretations of the record in different care settings

Implementation plans

In England SNOMED CT was implemented across primary care and began to be deployed to GP practices in a phased approach from April 2018. All systems used by GP service providers were required to adopt SNOMED CT and SNOMED CT must be used in place of Read Codes

  • secondary care, acute care, mental health, community systems, dentistry and other systems used in direct patient care must use SNOMED CT as the clinical terminology, before 1 April 2020

Resources and support

A wide range of resources are available to support the ongoing use of SNOMED CT. These resources are listed below and can be accessed easily on the FutureNHS Collaboration Platform (this platform requires users to register and log in).