Charing Cross Hospital
020 3311 7017
Hammersmith Hospital
020 3313 3143
St Mary’s Hospital
020 3312 1248

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Anaesthesia is a type of drug treatment used to prevent patients feeling pain when they have a medical procedure such as an operation.

We deliver the highest standard of patient care using evidence-based methods of anaesthesia together with the latest equipment.

Our anaesthesia services are provided by a team of highly trained and experienced specialists, known as anaesthetists, who are all trained to nationally agreed standards.

Anaesthetists work in all our hospitals and are a key part of the team when surgery is being performed. They safely administer the right level of anaesthetic and monitor patients while they are anaesthetised to ensure they remain safe.

In addition to providing care during operations, our anaesthetists are also involved in managing pain relief during childbirth, pain clinics, intensive care, high dependency and resuscitation services, as well as hospital administration, teaching and training, research and audit.

Specialist services

We also provide specialist services for certain types of operation, for example:

  • cardiac anaesthesia
  • neuro-anaesthesia
  • paediatric anaesthesia
  • paediatric intensive care
  • acute and chronic pain management
  • obstetric anaesthesia
  • intensive care

When is anaesthetic used?

A local anaesthetic is normally used for minor surgery to ensure you feel no pain during the operation. It is normally given by injection or spray to numb the part of the body where surgery will take place.

A regional anaesthetic blocks pain in a large part of the body, such as an entire arm or leg. An epidural, sometimes given to a woman for pain relief during childbirth, is a type of regional anaesthesia.

General anaesthetic blocks pain in the entire body by putting a patient into a state of unconsciousness. Patients are usually given a general anaesthetic when they are having a long operation, or one that would be particularly painful otherwise.

Additional information

Education and academic teaching

Academic teaching is administered via Imperial College London's faculty of medicine, which offers both academic clinical fellowships and clinical lectureships in anaesthesia. This means that StRs have the opportunity to go on to an academic career in anaesthesia should they so wish, after they have gone through their initial training. To find out more about studying anaesthesia at Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust, please contact training administrator Terri Stewart by email at

Further online resources