What is Perioperative Care?

Integrated care across the full patient pathway before, during and after surgery

Perioperative care, also referred to as perioperative medicine, is the practice of patient-centered, multidisciplinary, and integrated medical care of patients from the moment of contemplation of surgery until full recovery.

Good perioperative care should improve patient experience of care, including quality of care and satisfaction with care, improve health of populations, including returning to home/work and quality of life, and reduce the per capita cost of health care through improving value.

The challenge

Surgery is an important treatment option for a wide range of acute and chronic diseases. Around 10 million patients undergo a surgical procedure each year and this number will continue to rise. For most patients surgery is a success, both in terms of the procedure itself and the care before and afterwards. However, the population is changing and so must our services.  There are over 250,000 patients at higher risk from surgery and this number is set to rise. So with increasing demand and the increasing complexity of surgical procedures, come new challenges that we must address.

The solution

We believe that collaborative and efficient perioperative care is the route to effective and sustainable surgery. Many components of the perioperative care pathway already exist within the NHS. The Royal College of Anaesthetists has previously produced a vision document, Perioperative Medicine: The Pathway to Better Surgical Care, and a film to illustrate what good perioperative care can look like.

Perioperative care is not a new concept and aspects of it exist across the NHS. However, no hospital can offer a complete perioperative care package for every patient. We believe that the time is right to formalise the delivery of this care across the NHS and seek to work with our stakeholders in order to reach this goal.


Animated film 

To see what good perioperative care can look like, please watch our animated film (first published in 2015) and follow our patient ‘Doug’ along his surgical pathway:

Please watch Perioperative Medicine - Pathway to Surgical Care (Welsh Language) here

The Centre for Perioperative Care brings together healthcare workers, patients and many others who want to work collaboratively to develop and promote the best possible care for patients who need surgery. As a team we have the chance to make permanent and positive changes to the health of patients and populations both now and for the future.

Dr Fiona Donald
President, Royal College of Anaesthetists

Are you looking for guidance about your own surgery?
Click below for general advice on how to get the best possible outcome at each step of the perioperative pathway.