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SNOMED implementation postponed

Following our calls to the Health Minister, Jo Churchill has indicated that the government will consider postponing full compliance of SNOMED CT to after 31 August 2021.

SNOMED CT is a system that aims to ensure better interoperability between health services for patients, by ensuring clinical notes are coded in a standardised way. All clinicians will be expected to use the new systems and it may cause increased bureaucracy for dentists - this is an issue that we have repeatedly sought assurance on.

The planned implementation of SNOMED CT was originally set for 1 April 2021. We expressed grave concerns that the systems in place for its use in dental practices are not sufficiently robust at present to ensure patient safety a smooth rollout that won’t impact on time spent with patients.

We have requested a later further rollout date of 1 April 2022 and are also seeking urgent clarity on outstanding issues such as: the exact codesets that will be required, whether there is a need for rebase charting and how private practices may be affected.

The Department has said during the next few months suppliers and practitioners should actively work to implement the terminology by their August deadline.

Our Chair, Eddie Crouch, has stated: “We all recognise the benefits SNOMED will bring in establishing interoperable patient records. This will enhance patient safety, support integration, and provide far richer public health data.

“However, we have been clear that flawed implementation at this stage would make the realisation of these benefits more difficult in the long term and this news will be a relief for dentists. Postponement is vital, so clinicians can be confident that they can act in the best interests of their patients.”