Safeguarding children in theatre – a new resource for anaesthetists

All healthcare professionals have a responsibility to ensure the safety of children under their care and to act if they have any safeguarding (child protection) concerns. Safeguarding children is a complex area of practice and one that those who work outside of paediatrics find particularly challenging. To assist their members, The Royal College of Anaesthetists (RCoA), supported by the Association of Paediatric Anaesthetists of Great Britain and Ireland (APAGBI), has developed a short film to provide guidance should safeguarding and child protection concerns arise in the perioperative period. This film is now available to view on the RCoA’s website (

The film simulates a parent/carer and child interview after a safeguarding issue has arisen, where a senior paediatrician is not available to attend and assist in person. While it is impossible to predict in advance the exact dialogue, guidance about how to structure a conversation is provided by an anaesthetist as lead safeguarding professional, and two different outcomes are portrayed. The film is supported with joint guidance published by the RCoA1.

Dr Liam Brennan, President of the Royal College of Anaesthetists and a consultant paediatric anaesthetist, said: “Safeguarding children is the responsibility of everyone who works in healthcare. The development of this unique resource, giving anaesthetists greater confidence in managing safeguarding concerns, is one that we as a medical royal college are proud to have co-developed. The College hopes that the material presented will help anaesthetists in dealing with these challenging scenarios and provide a useful contribution to safeguarding training2. We are particularly grateful for the input of the RCoA multidisciplinary Safeguarding Group who provided the original idea for the development of this resource.”

Dr Kathy Wilkinson, Chair of the Royal College of Anaesthetists’ Safeguarding Group said: “Good communications are a core skill of all anaesthetists. We hope the film will help defuse some of the concerns many will have about getting the basic principles right when talking with a family about a safeguarding issue, particularly when a paediatrician is not immediately available to assist.”

The RCoA will soon launch a new safeguarding and ethics section on its website for anaesthetists working in the perioperative period, in pain medicine and intensive care. This educational resource is being developed and peer reviewed. The new web pages will be dedicated to sharing reliable sources of reference for dealing with possible safeguarding concerns involving children, young people, and adults. It will also address and provide guidance for a range of consent and ethical issues.


  1. Child protection and the anaesthetist: safeguarding children in the operating theatre 2014
  2. Safeguarding children and young people: roles and competences for health care staff. Intercollegiate Document, 2014

29 September 2016

This website uses Cookies, for further information see our privacy policy.