Anaesthetists, the largest group of hospital-based specialists, give anaesthetics for surgical, medical and psychiatric procedures. They facilitate pain free child-birth, resuscitate acutely unwell patients, run chronic pain and lead intensive care units.

Nature of the work

Anaesthetists work in many different areas of the hospital. Foundation anaesthetic skills are learned in the first few years of training, but after that many anaesthetists develop a particular expertise. Anaesthetists care for patients by choosing the appropriate anaesthetics, monitoring their wellbeing during operations and painful procedures, supervising their recovery and providing further medical support if needed. The majority of their time is spent in the operating theatre but they also work in areas such as:

Anaesthetists offer four stages of patient care for a routine anaesthetic:

The modern specialty of anaesthesia has come a long way since its earliest days. Every patient has a needle inserted in their vein, and in more complicated cases, arterial or central venous lines (ie inserting a line via a thin catheter). Airway management is also important. This may involve face masks, laryngeal mask airways, endotracheal intubations or tracheostomies. Common regional anaesthetic techniques include the epidural and the spinal block.

Common procedures/interventions

The word 'anaesthesia' means 'loss of sensation'. Common procedures include:


There are three CCT sub-specialties:

As their career progresses, many anaesthetists develop an interest in a clinical or research sub-specialty.

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