OPCS-4 is used to support operational and strategic planning, resource utilisation, performance management, reimbursement, research and epidemiology. It is used by NHS suppliers to build/update software to support NHS business functions and interoperability.
OPCS-4 is updated every three years to ensure that modern clinical practice is represented appropriately. This will be continued until further notice as shown below:
|Year||Version of OPCS-4*|
|Up to 31 March 2006||OPCS-4.2|
|01-Apr-2006 to 31-Mar-2007||OPCS-4.3|
|01-Apr-2007 to 31-Mar-2008|
01-Apr-2008 to 31-Mar-2009
|01-Apr-2009 to 31-Mar-2011||OPCS-4.5|
|01-Apr-2011 to 31-Mar-2014||OPCS-4.6|
|01-Apr-2014 until further notification||OPCS-4.7|
*Tables of Coding Equivalences are issued for mapping back to previous versions and are available from the Technology Reference Data Update Distribution Service (TRUD).
The NHS Data Model and Dictionary contains a number of data collections that require OPCS-4 codes, such as Central Returns and Commissioning Data Sets. All data collections should use the latest version of the OPCS-4 classification as specified in the table above.
The classification of Surgical Operations and Procedures was originally issued by the Office of Population Censuses and Surveys (OPCS). The 4th revision was first implemented in hospital information systems in 1987. This was subject to a significant number of amendments and a consolidated version was reproduced in 1990.
The OPCS Classification of Surgical Operations and Procedures (OPCS-4.2) was substantially enhanced to ensure that modern clinical practice was represented appropriately within the classification and a new version was implemented in 2006 titled OPCS Classification of Interventions and Procedures (OPCS-4.3) with a commitment to undertake annual review and potential update. The classification comprises a list of alphanumeric codes with mainly anatomically based chapters, most of which relate to the whole or part of a body system. Each chapter is designated alphabetically e.g. Chapter A covers the nervous system and Chapter K is assigned to the heart. The alphabetic character for each chapter forms the prefix of the 3 and 4 digit codes within it. The strict link between chapters and body systems with specific procedures being listed for individual organs was breached in OPCS-4.3 because of limited capacity.
There are instances where an existing category needs extension because all the available codes have been allocated. In such cases an extended category is created within the Tabular List chapter. These categories are referred to as principal category or extended category and identified by an accompanying note to ease navigation.
Chapters that have reached capacity are extended using alphanumeric categories which are assigned using the free alpha O. This has occurred within three chapters (Chapters L, W and Z). Codes created in this way still form part of an existing chapter even though they have a different alpha prefix to the rest of that chapter. Such new codes will, therefore, logically sit at the end of the body system chapter and are readily identified within the alphabetical index. There is an additional chapter (Chapter X) for operations on multiple systems using miscellaneous procedures.
The classification is published in two volumes. The Tabular List and Alphabetical Index are available from The Stationery Office at www.tsoshop.co.uk
OPCS-4 Requests Portal
The OPCS-4 Requests Portal allows stakeholders to submit change requests to the NHS Classification Service all year round. A cut-off date for receipt of change requests for consideration in the next release is published on the Requests Portal. Requests received after the cut-off date will be considered in a subsequent release.
For further information and access to the OPCS-4 Requests Portal, see Submissions for review of OPCS-4.
High Cost Drugs and Chemotherapy Regimens
The listings of High Cost Drugs and Chemotherapy Regimens which are mapped to OPCS-4 codes are provided as look-up tables downloadable from the Technology Reference Data Update Distribution Service (TRUD) via the TRUD website.