Guide to Anaesthetics Training (The Handbook)

Published: 10/01/2023


This is version 1.0, reviewed on 11 January 2023.

These pages will be reviewed and potentially updated no later than 10 January 2024.

If you would like to contact us, you can email the Anaesthetics Curriculum and Equivalence Team on or call on 020 7092 1550.

Please let us know what you think. If you feel the information on this page could be improved, please get in touch with us.

Why the curriculum has changed

Anaesthetic training in the UK followed an apprenticeship-style model until the year 2000, when the first structured anaesthetic training programme was implemented. The 2010 curriculum introduced the concepts of competency-based medical education, workplace-based assessments, and ‘spiral learning’ to a generation of anaesthetists. The 2021 Curriculum moves anaesthetic training forwards again with an outcomes-based, holistic approach that incorporates developments in medical education and addresses the needs of anaesthetists in training, patients, and the wider NHS [pdf].

In 2017 the GMC published Excellence by Design [external link] which mandated a review of existing curricula in every specialty across the UK. This report recommended greater focus on Generic Professional Capabilities [external link] (GPCs), the professional skills required by all doctors; an outcomes-based (rather than competency-based) curriculum; involvement of stakeholders in development; and flexibility and transferability between curricula. In responding to Excellence by Design the Royal College of Anaesthetists (RCoA) has also drawn on the recommendations of The Shape of Training Review [pdf], its own 2015 Curriculum Review [pdf], and the Report on the Welfare, Morale and Experiences of Anaesthetists in Training of 2017 [pdf].

The 2021 Curriculum was developed by a group comprising the Vice-President of the College, Chair of the Training Committee, Training Department staff, FRCA examiners, lead Regional Advisers (RAs) and College Tutors (CTs), anaesthetists in training, experts in education, training and assessment, as well as representatives from SAS, Pain Medicine, ICM, clinical director, recruitment and lay groups. Throughout the process there was extensive engagement with wider stakeholder groups as detailed in Appendix A.

The 2021 Curriculum Guide to Anaesthetics Training has been designed by members of the Anaesthesia Curriculum Implementation Group including anaesthetists in training to support adoption of the new curriculum. 

It is intended to support Educational Supervisors, College Tutors, local Assessment Faculties, Anaesthetists in Training, and Training Programme Directors with the everyday practical aspects of implementing the new curriculum.

This guide should be used in partnership with the 2021 Curriculum Assessment Guidance. It is envisioned that these documents will complement the 2021 Curriculum for a CCT in Anaesthetics document, rather than act as a replacement.