Anaesthetists are doctors!
In January 2001 the Royal College of Anaesthetists commisisioned a survey by MORI (Market and Opinion Research International) to study whether the general public appreciate that anaesthetists are medically qualified doctors who have underegone specialist training,
The survey revealed that a third (36%) of the British public do not believe that anaesthetists are medically qualified doctors. This misconception was particularly prevalent among 25-34 year-olds (45%). One in ten (9%) were unsure whether or not anaesthetists are medically qualified doctors. This finding confirms that the public perception of the specialty of anaesthesia is poor.
Anaesthetists train longer than GPs
- Half of the public (49%) incorrectly believed that anaesthetists are trained for a shorter period or the same length of time as GPs. Just over a third (36%) of adults know that anaesthetists' specialist training is longer than that of GPs.
- Two in five (43%) correctly thought that anaesthetists are trained for a shorter period of time than surgeons.
- A third of adults (36%) thought that anaesthetists have undergone a shorter or equivalent period of specialist training to that of physiotherapists.
- Anaesthesia is the largest single hospital specialty.
- There are over 5500 anaesthetists in England and Wales alone, just under half of whom are consultants.
- Few mainstream medical specialties are as poorly understood.
- Many patients do not realise that anaesthetists are doctors or that they have responsibilities outside the operating theatre.
- Anaesthetists provide clinical skills in acute and chronic pain management, intensive care, obstetrics, interhospital transfer, trauma, and resuscitation.
- Anaesthetists play a pivotal role within acute hospitals; their activities affect up to two thirds of a trust's income yet their salaries cost only 3% of this figure.
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- Obstetric Anaesthetists Association. Recommended minimum standards for obstetric anaesthesia services. Nottingham: OAA, 1995.
- Reilly C. Professional roles in anaesthetics: a scoping study. Leeds: NHS Executive, 1996.
- Association of Anaesthetists. Anaesthesia in Great Britain and Ireland: a physician only service. London: AAGBI, 1994.
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- Royal College of Anaesthetists and Association of Anaesthetists. Response to the Audit Commission report. London: RCA, 1997 (press release 16 December).
- Campling EA, Devlin HB, Hoile RW, Lunn JN. Report of the National Confidential Enquiry into Perioperative Deaths 1992-3. London: NCEPOD, 1995.
- Arrowsmith JE, Alexander R, Dear GdL, Gan TJ, Hill RP, Olufolabi A, Sanderson IC, Soppitt AJ, Robinson DN, Chopra V, Green DW (1998). Audit Commission tackles anaesthetic services. British Medical Journal 1998; 316: 1827.
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- Sharkey, J., Johnstone, P., Allot, C., Hawkins, V., Moncrieff, J., Thomas, P., Crawford, M., Henderson, C., Johnston, T. Modernising mental health services. British Medical Journal 1999; 318: 806-806.
- Hahn, C.E.W. Editorial III: Lessons from Stafford. British Journal of Anaesthesia 2001; 86: 469-472.