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Read Codes

Read Codes are a coded thesaurus of clinical terms. Read Codes have two versions: Version 2 (v2) and version 3 (CTV3 or v3), which are the basic means by which clinicians record patient findings and procedures in health and social care IT systems across primary and secondary care (e.g. General Practice surgeries and pathology reporting of results).

These codes facilitate efficient modern electronic communication and support patient records, public health and activity reporting, payments, audit, research and the automation of repetitive manual tasks.

Read Codes have been in use in the NHS since 1985 and are still widely used in the primary care sector.

The UK Terminology Centre (UKTC) continues to maintain and distribute a number of Read Code-based products as follows:

  • Unified 5-Byte Version 2 Set
  • Unified 5-Byte Version 2 Set (Scottish version)
  • Clinical Terms (The Read Codes) Version 3
  • Various versions of the Drug and Appliance Dictionary

Cross-maps are maintained from the Read codes to the UK mandated classifications of OPCS-4 and ICD-10 Pathology Bounded Code List (PBCL).

From the 1st January 2012, all Crown data and products currently licensed under the Combined Terminology Licence on TRUD (which expires on the 31st December 2011) will be licensed under the UK Open Government Licence (OGL). From the 1st January 2012 all registered users of affected data and products will need to accept the amended terms of use.

All products are available from the UKTC and are distributed using the Technology Reference-data Update Distribution service (TRUD). This release is timed to coincide with the UK release of SNOMED CT on 1 April and 1 October each Year. The Read browser is available to download from TRUD which can be used as a search engine for the Read Codes.

Requests for change

Like SNOMED CT, the Read codes are updated regularly to reflect changes in clinical practice. There is a dedicated Read Code submission portal (Mycodeplace) on which users can make requests for change and track their submissions. To make best use of this mechanism find guidance on the 'myCodePlace' portal.