What do anaesthetists do?

Anaesthetists form the largest single hospital medical specialty in the NHS

They are specialist doctors responsible for providing anaesthesia and pain management to patients before, during and after operations and surgical procedures.

In addition to providing anaesthesia to those in need, anaesthetists key responsibilities also include:

  • getting a patient ready for surgery and looking after them afterwards
  • resuscitation and stabilisation of patients in the emergency department
  • pain relief in labour and obstetric anaesthesia
  • intensive care medicine
  • pain medicine
  • transport of acutely ill and injured patients
  • pre-hospital emergency care.

Anaesthetists often occupy key management roles by working as a clinical or medical director. They often lead the clinical management of intensive care units alongside other specialties and work closely with emergency physicians to treat emergency patients. They provide care for patients in chronic pain clinics, provide anaesthesia in psychiatric units for patients receiving electroconvulsive therapy (ECT), as well as the provision of sedation and anaesthesia for patients undergoing interventional radiology and radiotherapy.

Anaesthetists have a unique position in providing patient-focused care. Combine this with being on the cardiac arrest team, trauma team, providing obstetric care and an experience in intensive care, anaesthesia is a broad and interesting specialty which can provide something for everyone. After choosing anaesthesia, I have never looked back - it was definitely the right choice!

Dr Soumen Sen
KSS/RCoA Education Fellow