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OPCS-4 Classification

The clinical classification OPCS-4 is mandatory for Admitted Patient Care Commissioning Data Sets (CDS) and wherever there is a national requirement to support secondary uses. The classification may also be used locally for operational uses.


The NHS Classifications Service (NCS) supports, maintains, and develops the OPCS Classification of Interventions and Procedures (OPCS-4) which is governed by Crown Copyright.

Below the OPCS-4 versions and the financial year mandated for use is listed. The implementation date for each version will always be 1 April.  The background to the classification and its history in the NHS goes back many years.

Financial Year OPCS-4 version mandated for use

    • Up to 31 March 2006 OPCS-4.2
    • 2006-7 OPCS-4.3
    • 2007-8 OPCS-4.4
    • 2008-9 OPCS-4.4
    • 2009-11 OPCS-4.5
    • 2011-12 OPCS-4.6 and until further notice

OPCS-4.6 release

The OPCS-4.6 change entails the addition of new codes and descriptions to OPCS-4.5. The new entries fall within existing chapters. There has been no change to the architecture of OPCS-4.

Why an annual review?

Development in healthcare, and the increasing diversity of interventions and procedures, means that any classification system can rapidly become out of date. Consequently the OPCS-4 classification is now reviewed annually and updated as deemed necessary to reflect changes to clinical care.

Typically updates are released every two years subject to business requirements and mandatory approvals.

By providing a flexible and up-to-date classification system that reflects current clinical activity performed in the NHS the benefits are:

  • improve the accuracy and quality of procedure data collected by the NHS for both statistical and financial planning
  • enable commissioners to review activity accurately for better health planning and improved patient care
  • respond to feedback and change requests from users
  • continue to support government policy to reform reimbursement in the NHS via the Payment by Results (PbR) Programme by providing an up-to-date classification to capture NHS clinical activity appropriately from which coded clinical data is grouped into Healthcare Resource Groups as part of a casemix system

More information on the OPCS-4 Requests Portal can be found on our website.