RCoA Perioperative Medicine Programme


The challenge

Surgery is an important treatment option for a wide range of acute and chronic diseases, with around 10 million patients having procedures annually; a number which will continue to rise.  For most patients surgery is a success, both in terms of the procedure itself and the care before and afterwards.  However, the population is changing and so must our services.  There are 250,000 patients at higher risk from surgery and this number is set to rise.  So with increasing demand and the increasing complexity of surgical procedures, come new challenges that we must address.

The solution

We believe that collaborative and efficient perioperative care is the route to effective and sustainable surgery.  Many components of the perioperative medicine pathway already exist within the NHS. We have produced a vision document, Perioperative Medicine: The Pathway to Better Surgical Care and have commissioned a film to illustrate what good perioperative care can look like.

Perioperative medicine is not a new concept and aspects of it exist across the NHS.  However, no hospital can offer a complete perioperative medicine package for every patient.  We believe that the time is right to formalise the delivery of this care across the NHS and seek to work with our stakeholders in order to reach this goal.

RCoA programme – key messages

Perioperative medicine describes the practice of patient-centered, multidisciplinary, and integrated medical care of patients from the moment of contemplation of surgery until full recovery.

  1. Perioperative Medicine improves the short-term safety and long-term effectiveness of surgical treatments by the delivery of multi-disciplinary integrated medical care before, during, and after surgery.
  2. Patients are at the centre of Perioperative Medicine and should be empowered to fully participate in their own healthcare choices, making well-informed decisions about all aspects of their care.
  3. The Royal College of Anaesthetists is committed to leading quality improvement in perioperative medicine across the UK through defined competencies within anaesthetic training, evidence-based national standards, and world-class research.
  4. Anaesthesia is central to the delivery of safe and effective perioperative care. Perioperative Medicine is a strategy to work with other healthcare professionals to promote this philosophy whilst maintaining the practice of anaesthesia at its core.
  5. Much of the necessary resource and elements of best practice in Perioperative Medicine already exist; our goal is to see these resources appropriately allocated to maximise patient benefit and to share and develop best practice across the NHS.