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Pre-operative guidance news

24 Jun 2021

Guidelines launch to support patients on surgical waiting lists

Today sees the launch of new guidance which will boost the NHS in its efforts to provide better advice, support and care to patients contemplating or waiting for surgery. The guidance has been produced by a leading group of professional healthcare organisations1 including the Centre for Perioperative Care, the Royal College of Surgeons of England and the Royal College of General Practitioners.

Major surgical complications already affect over 300,0002 NHS patients per year, jeopardising long-term quality of life and survival. With the pandemic leaving five million3 people currently waiting for planned surgery, without action, the rate of major complications may rise due to deteriorating health and fitness while waiting.

The new Pre-operative assessment and optimisation (POAO) guidance supports clinicians to help patients to get ready for their surgery and improve their health. Embedding shared decision making into perioperative care4 pathways, as described in recent NICE guidance5, is recommended as an important step to ensure patients get the right care for them, every time.

Innovations such as prehabilitation, which includes improving general health, exercise, nutrition, and preparing patients psychologically, all help to support patients waiting for surgery.

Read the new guidance


  1. British Geriatric Society, Centre for Perioperative Care, Federation of Surgical Specialist Associations, Intensive Care Society, International Prehabilitation Society Preoperative Association, Perioperative Exercise Testing and Training Society, Royal College of General Practitioners, Royal College of Surgeons of England.
  2. PQIP Annual Report, 2018-19
  3. Consultant-led Referral to Treatment Waiting Times Data, NHS England, May 2021
  4. Perioperative care is the integrated multidisciplinary care of patients from the moment surgery is contemplated through to 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. For more information visit:
  5. NICE: Shared Decision Making, 2021




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