Airway Leads

One of the key recommendations of the NAP4 report was the appointment of departmental Airway Leads

Following the Fourth National Audit Project (NAP4) report, which examined major complications of airway management in the UK, the RCoA and the Difficult Airway Society (DAS) strongly recommended that all departments of anaesthesia institute the role of a named departmental Airway Lead.

Following the publication of the NAP4 report, the RCoA and the Difficult Airway Society (DAS) strongly endorsed the report's recommendation that all departments of anaesthesia should appoint a departmental Airway Lead.

Click here for the Airway Lead Database.


Local logistics influence the size of the Airway Lead role, the priorities and specific responsibilities. As such local flexibility is both necessary and encouraged. Responsibilities of the Airway Lead include (but are not limited to):

  • Overseeing local airway training for anaesthetists and assisting in airway training more widely
  • Ensuring local policies exist and are disseminated for predictable airway emergencies
  • Ensuring that difficult airway equipment is appropriate to the local (and national) guidelines and appropriately standardised within the organisation
  • Liaising specifically with the Intensive Care Unit and Emergency Department to ensure consistency of standards and practice
  • Actively engaging in airway device procurement
  • Ensuring consistency of airway assessment and planning
  • Ensuring best practice in management of patients at risk of aspiration and the obese
  • Overseeing audit of airway assessment, guideline adherence and complications
  • Assisting in responding to national surveys and compliance with national audits directly relating to airway management, in collaboration with the local Quality Audit & Research Coordinator 

The formal recommendation for Airway Leads to be adopted in all hospitals emphasises the importance of safe airway management and also the important leadership role the anaesthetic department can take in airway management across the hospital.

We welcome this [NAP4] report and would encourage NHS trusts and staff to take note of the recommendations and take any necessary action to ensure high quality safe patient care.

Department of Health spokesperson

Would you like to know more about airway matters?
Visit our friends at the Difficult Airway Society (DAS) for more information on matters relating to the airway and the latest updates on their projects.