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Anaesthesia, Perioperative Medicine and Pain Management

The NIHR is the nation's largest funder of health and care research and provides the people, facilities and technology that enable research to thrive. We work in partnership with the NHS, universities, local government, other research funders (including industry and charities), patients and the public to improve the health and wealth of the nation.   

The NIHR Clinical Research Network (CRN) supported 130 studies on anaesthesia, perioperative medicine and pain management, 49 of which were new studies, and recruited 42,240 patients to studies last year (2018/19). 

Anaesthetists are involved in over 50 per cent of secondary care patient episodes in the UK and care for patients undergoing a wide range of procedures. Patients may be undergoing treatments as diverse as chronic pain interventions, obstetric procedures, major cancer surgery or even sedation for radiological procedures - the one common factor is the presence of an anaesthetist. We currently support trials across the entire pathway, providing a unique route of access to a wide range of patient groups.

The NIHR Clinical Research Network (CRN) Anaesthesia, Perioperative Medicine and Pain Management Specialty has continued to deliver 100% of commercial contract studies to recruitment target during their planned recruitment period, at confirmed Network sites since 2016.

Personalised prehabilitation care for cancer patients

The EMPOWER study was designed to provide more data about how a responsive and personalised prehabilitation care plan can help to improve fitness levels and health outcomes for patients undergoing treatment for rectal cancer.

It received support from NIHR Clinical Research Network funded nurses and staff, who were involved in recruiting patients and supporting exercise science experts who led the training sessions. The NIHR Research Design Service was instrumental in advising the study team and clarifying issues around feasibility. The research team also worked closely with INVOLVE to improve patient participation.

Following completion of the programme, quality of life improved in the exercise group and deteriorated in the control group.

Read more about the outcomes in our impact case study.

Find an anaesthesia, perioperative medicine and pain management study in your area

You can find out more about anaesthesia, perioperative medicine and pain management  studies in your area through the Be Part of Research website.

The NIHR provides researchers with the practical support they need to make clinical studies happen in the NHS. This support covers every stage of research, from set up to delivery.

We provide world-class health service infrastructure - research support staff such as clinical research nurses, and research support services such as pharmacy, pathology and radiology - to support organisations seeking to conduct clinical research in the NHS in England. Some of this research is funded by the NIHR, but most of it is funded by NHS non-commercial partners and industry.

We support the set up and delivery of clinical research in the NHS through our Study Support Service and our Research Design Service helps researchers develop proposals to secure funding from our research programmes.  

The Anaesthesia, Perioperative Medicine and Pain Management Specialty supports a national portfolio of structured research studies in anaesthesia and perioperative medicine as well as the management of acute and chronic pain.

We support researchers to deliver high quality studies to time and target in the NHS. We do this by engaging with the existing research community and developing the research infrastructure locally.

The portfolio of the Anaesthesia, Perioperative Medicine and Pain Management Specialty includes:

  • Studies on the development, use and effect of anaesthetics, including drugs and techniques for sedation
  • Studies on the non-surgical aspects of the perioperative management of patients undergoing surgical procedures
  • Studies on the management and treatment of acute and chronic pain
  • Studies on the organisation and delivery of services for the perioperative management of patients and the treatment of pain, including the impact of training staff
  • You can find out more about Anaesthesia, Perioperative Medicine and Pain Management studies in your area through the Be Part of Research website.

National Anaesthesia, Perioperative Medicine, and Pain Management Specialty Group

Each of our 15 Local Clinical Research Networks has at least one nominated local Clinical Specialty Research Lead for Anaesthesia. These clinicians lead research groups to promote and support Anaesthesia research within NHS Trusts in their area.

At a national level the local leads come together to manage the national Anaesthesia clinical research portfolio. This involves regularly reviewing the progress of studies, identifying barriers to recruitment, and coming up with solutions and strategies to help overcome those barriers. Our National Specialty Group of clinical experts offer advice and support to commercial and non-commercial customers looking to conduct research in the NHS.

The national group work closely with the National Institute of Academic Anaesthesia (NIAA), UK Perioperative Medicine Clinical Trials Network (POMCTN), Health Services Research Centre (HSRC) and the devolved nations to deliver high quality research and improve patient care.  Our links with the anaesthetic trainee networks provide invaluable additional support with wide involvement from trainees for the delivery of large-scale studies.


Anaesthesia Specialty profile

The Anaesthesia Specialty profile gives an overview of our offer to the Life Sciences industry.

The NIHR Clinical Research Network Anaesthesia, Perioperative Medicine and Pain Management specialty group works closely with these organisations in integrating clinical research into NHS clinical service provision, and in driving priority setting that encourages research that will have the greatest impact on patients.

UK Perioperative Medicine Clinical Trials Network

The objective of the UK Perioperative Medicine Clinical Trials Network (CTN) is to create an environment which allows everyone with an interest in perioperative care to make a meaningful but realistic contribution to clinical trials and observational studies.

NIAA Health Services Research Centre

The National Institute of Academic Anaesthesia (NIAA) Health Services Research Centre (HSRC) is a hub for world-class anaesthetic research, including perioperative medicine, pain and anaesthetic sub-specialty research.  The centre aims to help national and international anaesthetic communities improve the care of patients.

Research and Audit Federation of Trainees

The Research and Audit Federation of Trainees (RAFT) is a trainee-led national umbrella group that networks together the multiple UK regional anaesthetic research groups.  It aims to facilitate annual national anaesthetic trainee-led projects, to improve access for trainees to clinical research and to promote the ‘collaborative model’ of ‘team UK anaesthesia’.

 The British Pain Society

The British Pain Society has a membership of over 1,400 and is involved in all aspects of pain and its management through the work of the Council, Committees and Working Parties. 

The Royal College of Anaesthetists

The Royal College of Anaesthetists (RCoA) is the professional body responsible for the specialty throughout the UK, and is committed to improving patients' safety, wellbeing and outcomes through the maintenance of standards in anaesthesia, critical care and pain medicine. 

The NIHR Clinical Research Network works in partnership with the RCoA to recognise the outstanding contribution of NHS consultants and trainees who are active in research through a yearly award scheme.

The NIHR provides the support and facilities the NHS needs for first-class research by funding a range of infrastructure.

NIHR Biomedical Research Centres

NIHR Biomedical Research Centres (BRCs), partnerships between England’s leading NHS organisations and universities, conduct translational research to transform scientific breakthroughs into life-saving treatments. The following BRC undertakes research in anaesthesia, perioperative medicine and pain management:

NIHR Applied Research Collaborations

NIHR Applied Research Collaborations (ARCs) support applied health and care research that responds to, and meets, the needs of local populations and local health and care systems. The following ARCs undertake  research in anaesthesia, perioperative medicine and pain management:

Work with our infrastructure

All of the NIHR facilities and centres are opening to working with the public, charities, industry and other partners. If you are interested in collaborating with the NIHR please contact the NIHR Office for Clinical Research infrastructure: 

Our experts in the NIHR Clinical Research Network National Specialty Group  can advise on delivering your anaesthesia, perioperative medicine and pain management study in the NHS.

National Specialty Lead

Professor Michael Grocott


Mike Grocott is the NIHR Clinical Research Network Specialty National Lead for Anaesthesia, Perioperative Medicine and Pain Management.

He is the Professor of Anaesthesia and Critical Care Medicine at the University of Southampton and a consultant in Critical Care Medicine at University Hospital Southampton where he leads critical care research within the UHS-UoS NIHR Biomedical Research Centre.

Mike was the founding director of the National Institute of Academic Anaesthesia Health Services Research Centre (2011-2016) and chaired the National Emergency Laparotomy Audit (2012-17). He is an elected council member of the Royal College of Anaesthetists and an elected board member of the Faculty of Intensive Care Medicine.

Mike’s research interests include human responses to hypoxia, measuring and improving outcome following surgery, lung injury, and fluid therapy. He leads the Xtreme-Everest Oxygen Research Consortium and the Fit-4-Surgery Group.

Related Specialties


Critical Care

Health Services Research


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