RCoA demonstrates its commitment to the global health priority of patient safety on World Patient Safety Day 2019

The Royal College of Anaesthetists is committed to improving patients’ safety, wellbeing and outcomes through the maintenance and advancement of standards in anaesthesia, critical care and pain medicine. It’s for this reason that we are supporting the World Health Organisation’s World Patient Safety Day on 17 September 2019.

Patient safety and improved clinical outcomes is at the heart of our clinical quality and research workstreams. 

The College’s strategy commits us to setting the highest standards for anaesthesia and patient care, and to working with anaesthetists to improve the service they provide. This work is focused on improving patient's safety, wellbeing and outcomes.

The Safe Anaesthesia Liaison Group (SALG), a collaborative project between the Association, RCoA and NHS Improvement has taken the lead in promoting patient safety in anaesthesia across a wide range of initiatives. Further information about the work of this group is available from the SALG website

Through a high quality research and clinical audit programme, the College is driving quality improvement in anaesthesia in support of patient safety and clinical care.


What we  do   Find out more and get involved
Plan and implement patient Safety projects
  • We developed the ‘Cappuccini Test’. This is a simple, six question audit to test whether supervision is adequate for non-consultant grade doctors. It is designed with anaesthetic services in mind, but it is hoped that it will be rolled out to other specialties in the future.
  • We developed a video resource: Capnography: No Trace=Wrong Place, alerting colleagues involved in the management of airways to the important message that during cardiac arrest, if a capnography trace is completely flat, oesophageal intubation should be assumed until proven otherwise.
  • We are currently writing guidance on safe anaesthesia staffing
  • The Safe Anaesthesia Liaison Group manages a number of patient safety projects. Currently the group is working on evaluating and relaunching the ‘Stop Before You Block’ campaign, which aimed to raise awareness of the dangers of wrong site blocks.
Deliver through the Health Services Research Centre (HSRC), based at the RCoA a variety of research and clinical audit programmes to drive quality improvement
  • We run National Audit Projects (NAPs) which are year-long, service evaluations of anaesthesia-related topics. They evaluate rare, potentially catastrophic events that are not amenable to other types of study.
  • We also run Sprint National Anaesthesia Projects (SNAPs) that are short, sharp prospective observational studies of clinical activities and patient centred outcomes on a particular topic.
  • We have established a network of local Quality Audit and Research Coordinators within every NHS trust to be a single point of contact for national audits, quality improvement projects and multi-centre research.
Provide educational resources that enhance professional development to improve patient safety, particularly involving simulation   
  • The College simulation working group has released a simulation strategy (2018-2023), that outlines the College’s approach to simulation and its role in quality improvement.
  • We support the ‘Giving Anaesthesia Safely Again’ (GasAgain) programme of return to work courses. We are in the process of setting up a network of return to work trainers who provide support to anaesthetists in training returning to work after a break (SuppoRTT) in order to provide consistent and effective support for those returning to work in anaesthesia, to refresh their skills and ensure patient safety.
  •  In order to improve patient safety, we are promoting and supporting the development of high quality multidisciplinary crisis resource management team training in perioperative care within the local context. We are currently looking for volunteers to be involved in a national working group to improve team-based CRM training and hospitals willing to pilot the new approach. To find out more, please contact Fiona Anderson, Education Administrator.                                      
Influence healthcare policy 
  • We joined 16 other Royal Colleges and medical organisations in writing to the UK Prime Minister, calling for health and patient safety to be at the heart of Brexit negotiations with the with the EU.
Develop and uphold standards
  • Our Guidelines for the Provision of Anaesthetic Services document forms the basis of recommendations produced by the College for anaesthetists with responsibilities for service and for other healthcare managers. It describes the requirements of the provision of a high quality, safe anaesthetic service for patients.
Working with overseas partners to develop anaesthesia training pathways in countries with chronic anaesthesiologist shortages
  • We are working with partners to develop the College of East, Central and Southern Africa (CANECSA).  The College which has nine constituent countries (Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique, Rwanda, Swaziland, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe).  As well as helping to develop the institution, we are working to develop a common curricula and assessment system to work across countries.  This will allow the development of the anaesthesiology workforce which is facing significant challenges within the region.  With more trained and competent anaesthetists, patients will be able to access safe and affordable care when it is required.
Supporting educational events for anaesthetists on topics relevant to patient safety
  • We run events throughout the year, on topics relevant to patient safety. The 2019 Winter Symposium will be focussed around the topic of improving patient safety.


17 September 2019