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Clinical Coder for NHS

(49 Posts)
claretandamberforever Sun 14-Oct-12 18:41:34

I know this is a long shot but is anyone a clinical coder? Or does anyone know someone who is one.

Somehow I have managed to blag an interview for a trainee coder position. I've looked into what the job entails and I am confident in my ability that I'd be able to do the job.

However there isn't many personal testimonies around on the net, and I'd love to know if people enjoy their job.

Thanks if there is anyone who can help

NewPoster Sun 14-Oct-12 23:27:16

The NHS payment regime for admitted patients (Inpatients, Daycases, Maternity, Emergency admissions) is 100% based on the clinical coding - if the coding doesn't fully reflect the patients stay they hospital won't receive the correct amount of money to cover what they did for the patient - hence pressure on coders to be as detailed and specific as possble with the coding. (the clinical codes are put through something called an HRG grouper that determines the £price) .
Thse days quite a lot of time (in a good coding dept) is taken up on clinical engagement, expaining to Drs (and Medical students) what information they should ensure is written in the notes and then how what they write is translated into codes for clinical coding purposes

There are also strict deadlines to get coding done by (about 6 weeks after the patient is discharged - if that is missed the Hospital doesn't receive any money for the stay.

Clinical Coders are expected to attend regular up date training courses (in house or run in regional centres) and there are professional exams they can take. As a trainee I would expect that you will need to undertake 1 - 2 year training, a mix of leaning within the department and attending courses. You will learn about the human body in terms of how it works, what procedures are and also about how diagnosis can be linked together

Overall I think that coders are quite well "treated" in hospitals - gone are the days when the only use made of clinical coding was to allow researchers to conducty studies into diseases and conditions; These days, coders and their work is what determines a large % of a hospitals income, and as such their work is audited regularly and resources made avaialble to support their training

Sorry for the long post - whilst I am not a coder I work closely with coders & am involved in the oputput of coding (income). This link is to an NHS site about clinical coders & includes some info on foundation courses for trainees

This is a site that explains what coding is for non coders

Whilst this link has quite a good presentation that i've used in talks to junior Drs as it explains what coding is and what coders can and can't do - can't interpret but can translate

Sorry for long post (it is a complex role in the "modern NHS") . Hope it helps and hope interview goes well

claretandamberforever Mon 15-Oct-12 16:59:32

Thanks so much for that NewPoster I found it really helpful. I'll set about reading the links now; my interview is tomorrow afternoon x

kirrinIsland Sun 27-Jan-13 15:57:57

I know this was a while ago but I have an interview / test for the same job next week. Can you remember what sort of things you were asked? And did you have a anatomy / physiology test as well?


SilentMammoth Sat 02-Feb-13 15:28:09

Kirrin, I've just looked at the coding post and I'm not really clear in the background needed, can you advise at all?

kirrinIsland Sun 03-Feb-13 08:40:28

Not sure what you mean? Job description for mine wanted a degree level education, a high level knowledge of anatomy and physiology (although from the interview it seems that wasn't vital) attention to detail and the ability to analyse large amounts of information - is this what you're after?
I come from a completely unrelated field so I just set out in my application how I could use my current skills in this post.

newposter's links above are very useful - I got most of my info on the job from that website.

SilentMammoth Sun 03-Feb-13 08:43:55

Yes, perfect thank you kirrin. That was really helpful.

Whens your interview? Good luck!

SilentMammoth Sun 03-Feb-13 08:44:17

Can I ask what band out is?

UnexpectedItemInShaggingArea Sun 03-Feb-13 09:20:31

My mum is a coder, she really enjoys her job but finds the NHS a pain to work for.

The workloads seem high, you needs to get through a lot of cases in a day and pay a lot of attention to detail (errors can have serious consequences). They expect you to pass the coding exams so people have to be prepared to study.

My understanding is that it's not really well paid at first but once you pass your exams and have some experience ther are opportunities to do agency work (including abroad) plus mark exams which are more lucrative.

SorrelForbes Sun 03-Feb-13 09:30:31

I used to manage a very large Coding Department in a big DGH. I don't have much to add to NewPoster's info apart form to say the pay can be fairly good.
In the Trust I worked in, trainees came in on a Band 4 and could progress to a Band 5 on passing the Accredited Clinical Coder exam (run by IHRIM).

You need to be able to focus for long periods of time and have very good attention to detail.

Good luck.

kirrinIsland Sun 03-Feb-13 12:00:24

Thanks unexpected and sorrel It seems to be such a niche area that it's quite hard to find out about it prior to interview - so your input is much appreciated smile

sorrel dare may I ask what sort of questions I might expect at a second interview?!

silent the one I've applied for is a band 5, but from looking at NHS Jobs most seems to be a 4 or even a 3 to start with. I had a first interview on Wednesday. I should hopefully hear next week if that was successful - second interview are the week after next. I have everything crossed!

SorrelForbes Sun 03-Feb-13 13:47:02

It would be very unusual to recruit a trainee coder on a Band 5. You might want to check whether that is on completion of training (which can take about 18 months).

TBH, I've never had to conduct a second round of interviews for a Coding job as although we used to receive quite a few applicants, many didn't meet the person spec and therefore we rarely interviewed more than 4 or 5 at a time.

I would be asking some questions about your ability to focus, how cope with repetition the confidence to liaise with clincial teams. I would also ask you to a simple test using the coding books. The ability to pick things up quickly and to be prepared to do home study would be a big plus for me.

SilentMammoth Sun 03-Feb-13 15:15:43

Gosh, they don't want much for a band 3rd/4 do they?!

kirrinIsland Sun 03-Feb-13 16:55:29

Sorry, should have been more specific - it's band 5, but only 75% of it for the first year.

We had an anatomy test, a coding test, and a short interview just to demonstrate that we had researched what the job entailed. Those that get through that will then have a 'proper' interview. Thanks for answering my questions sorrel I really appreciate it thanks I really want this job

SorrelForbes Sun 03-Feb-13 17:10:20

Crikey kirrin that sounds like they covered everything in the first interview! I expect they'll ask more of the same but could be totally wrong in the second one, but expect more detailed answers?

We used to recruit on a 3. The thing is that it takes easily 12 months (and some intensive and expensive courses) to train a coder to the point where they're really contributing to the department's targets. We kept spending a lot of money training new coders only for them to leave for another trust (offeirng jobs on a Band 4) once the traning period was up. We managed to change things so that we only recruited graduates or ex-HCPs. They came in on a Band 4 with guaranteed progression through the yearly increments if they could pass their end of 12 months training exam (set in-house) and signed an agreement to repay a % of their traingin costs if they left wihtin two years of joining . They were then expected to sit and pass the ACC exam within three years of joining and that would enable them to progress to a Band 5. We also paid a Recruitment and Retention premium to each coder of £1000 pa.

Our Coding trainers and auditors were on a Band 6.

SorrelForbes Sun 03-Feb-13 17:10:38

Sorry, meant to say 'good luck'!!!

kirrinIsland Sun 03-Feb-13 18:15:42

Thanks sorrel smile

pammy0910 Sat 27-Sep-14 21:15:01

Hi as anyone recently been interviewed for a clinical coding post. Thanks

thenightsky Sat 27-Sep-14 21:21:24

Wow... shocking thread!

The Trust I work for are seriously lacking and doing it on the cheap given the info on this thread (which I'm tempted to show to management).

Our coders have to do it as an add-on to their main jobs. For example our procurement officer, medical records filing clerks and receptions (all band 2 or 3) have to do coding where they can fit it in (an hour here or there each week). They got a 2 day course of training.

Mina76 Mon 05-Jan-15 19:07:41

Hi all,
I managed to get an interview for clinical coding officer Band 3. This is a new job to me. I did my research about the job and read the useful replies by members here. I would appreciate if anyone has gone through this phase, the interview questions I will be asked, numeracy and literacy test? I am nervous hmm

Many thanks in advance

bantamgirl Mon 05-Jan-15 19:12:05

I was the OP of this thread (password issues).

My test was on basic anatomy - very basic. Then I was given a practical test. Left in a room with a massive directory of codes, and a list of ailments and had to cross reference the correct ailment to the correct code. Nothing too difficult. This took about 30 minutes.

And the interview questions were just 'normal' so "can you tell me your understanding of what a clinical coder is", "what have you done to prepare for this interview" and a couple of "can you give us an example of when you have worked effectively as part of a team" - I can't remember the rest as it was 2 years ago but it wasn't the worst interview I have ever had. Oh - one of them was about how I would manage to fit in self-learning as I had a qualification to work towards as part of the role.

Dumbi Sun 11-Jan-15 22:18:37

Got a test for coding officer and anatomy is required anyone done this test and advise what they will be asking Cheers

Halo2015 Mon 19-Jan-15 19:22:15

I've just got a job as a trainee clinical coder on my interview I done a test about anatomy which was about 5 questions, then a test using the green books ICD10 & OPCS4 and then a interview.

sipa2015 Fri 06-Feb-15 01:40:58

Hi There. I'am a clinical coder of 7 years and for those entering into the role of trainee Clinical coder be prepared for the pressure and low pay whilst training. If you don't have a general interest in this subject then I'd say it's one of harder jobs if not the most difficult in administration jobs within the NHS and the pay does not reflect the role. You are expected to constantly be updating your books and to have good understanding of what it is you are coding. My medical dictionary is my best friend so I understand the condition and symptoms that are part of that condition so I do not over code. There are so many rules to sequencing with includes, excludes notes it is constant learning but I enjoy this part of the job. It is not a very sociable job and the coding office tends to be either silent or conversations about coding. You are very busy and Be prepared to work late on deadline week. Medical terminology is very important as is the willingness to learn as there are constant changes. Excellent concentration, attention to detail and you have to be super organised and always on top of your missing, histologies and queries. Good luck ladies

vinegarandbrownpaper Fri 06-Feb-15 01:54:19

You have to be resilient to surgeons trying to inflate their fees by implying routine ops. are in fact specialist. They WILL use their status to try and bully you into inflating their fees and to discourage you from challenging this. You may also be 'encouraged' to use non-specific codes where a precise one is necessary and will have to ask surgeons to get their fingers out and draw diagrams properly etc Its quite a responsible revenue protection job. And you will deal with some blustering greedy deceptive bastards, but the NHS right up to government level willback you up against this inflation of roles and payments.

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