Anaesthesia – fit for the future

Anaesthesia – fit for the future

Anaesthesia - fit for the future is our UK-wide influencing campaign to define the vision for the support needed to deliver the best possible patient care beyond COVID-19

About Anaesthesia – fit for the future

As the UK population changes and medicine advances, healthcare services need to evolve. And so does the way we deliver anaesthetic and surgical services.  

Anaesthetists are already at the centre of the establishment and delivery of perioperative care through multi-professional teams, supporting the NHS’s ambitions of better joined-up and patient centred care. Still more must be done to realise the full potential of anaesthesia as a key player in the delivery of these ambitions.

Anaesthesia – fit for the future is our UK-wide influencing campaign through which, over the next three years, we’ll set out a vision for ‘team anaesthesia’ and define the support it needs to deliver the best possible patient care in the aftermath of COVID-19 and beyond.

Why the Anaesthesia – fit for the future campaign now

The future beyond COVID-19 presents many opportunities to ‘build back better’, but there are also many challenges which need to be addressed to make this possible.

The pandemic has added considerably to the pressures that anaesthetists have been facing for many years and has created a backlog of elective procedures which will take many years to recover from.

Our members are telling us that they are exhausted and that anaesthetic departments are stretched to the limit.

And yet, last year’s RCoA census warned that the anaesthetic workforce has not been growing fast enough to keep up with the predicted increase in service demand, even before the pandemic.

This ‘state of the nation’ report reveals that:

  • the number of SAS anaesthetists, making up a quarter of the anaesthetic workforce, has barely increased since 2015
  • the 50 plus age group is now 39% of the workforce
  • there has been a steady decline in the number of newly qualified anaesthetists over recent years (from 569 in 2013 to 373 in 2019, a 34% reduction).

The NHS cannot recover and continue to function effectively without an anaesthetic workforce which is healthy, adequately staffed (across all grades and roles), well supported and valued.

Now is the time to make anaesthesia ‘fit for the future’.

Anaesthesia – fit for the future will explore the following issues in 2021:

  • how to fill the gap in the anaesthetic workforce
  • how to address the retention challenge

We will produce a report at the end of the year to present all the findings from the various policy development activities which we will be carrying out.

Get involved

This campaign is for you, our fellows and members. Throughout the campaign we want to make sure that we never lose sight of what matters to you.

We have set up a fellows and members’ sounding board at the start of the campaign to help us test our initial thinking, but we are also keen to continue to engage with you as the project develops.

If you are interested in joining our campaign sounding board please email