Airway leads networks

The first Airway Leads Network was launched in the UK in 2011 by the Royal College of Anaesthetists and the Difficult Airway Society following the 4th National Audit Project (NAP4). It has since been adapted as a model for similar networks here in Australia and New Zealand..

Australian Airway Leads Network

The Australian network is being developed by executive members of the Airway Management SIG, chaired by Dr Linda Beckmann (Qld). We're aiming to recruit one airway lead at each Australian health facility that provides general anaesthesia or sedation.

Roles and responsibilities

Airway leads in the Australian network may look towards some or all of the following to fulfil their position:

  • Overseeing and assisting local airway training.
  • Ensuring appropriate difficult airway equipment is readily available.
  • Actively engaging in airway device procurement.
  • Ensuring local policies for predictable airway emergencies exist and are available.
  • Providing airway management education to healthcare workers.
  • Liaising with the intensive care unit and emergency department, especially in rural and remote areas.
  • Ensuring consistency of airway assessment and planning.
  • Investigating adverse outcomes and supporting colleagues involved in them. 

The job description is not meant to be prescriptive but allows each airway lead to find and play to their strengths. The end result will be a kaleidoscope of skills within a group of individuals with a common goal – safe airway management by all anaesthetists for all patients.

The role of the airway lead is not a formal requirement in the ANZCA accreditation process or part of the curriculum. It is simply an administrative process to assist various aspects of airway management within individual local departments.

Benefit of the airway network

A major benefit of the network, which to date has been underutilised, is the capacity for the group of airway leads to:

  • Share and promote information including airway courses, airway fellowships, equipment shortages and safety alerts, new literature and guidelines, new airway alert standards and airway quality and safety projects.
  • Have input into important projects such as the revision of the ANZCA airway curriculum.
  • Discuss topics of interest and source speakers for airway sessions at conferences.
  • Engage in informal communication to share problems, knowledge and ask advice.
  • Be a source of airway management focused anaesthetists for succession planning within the Airway SIG executive.

Apply to be an airway lead

If you're interested in applying to be an airway lead for your facility, please first seek the endorsement of a senior specialist such as the director/head of department (in public hospitals) or the chair of an anaesthesia craft group or equivalent (in private hospitals). Then complete the application form, and email it to [email protected].

Find out more

For more information about the role we encourage you to first contact the Airway Management SIG executive member for your state. To get in contact with your state executive member please email us, and we'll forward your email to the executive member for your state. Airway leads in Tasmania should contact the Victorian representative. Northern territorians should liaise with a South Australian committee member and those in the ACT with NSW.

Nomination form

Please click here to download the nomination form. 

New Zealand Airway Leads Network

Established in 2018, and managed through the New Zealand Society of Anaesthetists (NZSA), the network has already expanded throughout the country thanks to the work of Dr Paul Baker FANZCA, who was both chair of the Auckland City Hospital Airway Committee and also a member of the Difficult Airway Society (DAS). The primary responsibilities for an airway lead in New Zealand are: 

  • Education: This involves encouraging and supporting education for airway management within the hospital, particularly for specialists.
  • Standards: Promoting appropriate ANZCA guidelines is another important role for the airway lead.
  • Equipment procurement: The Airway Committee has adopted the standards defined in the DAS Airway Device Evaluation Project Team (ADEPT) study, which looks for a minimum level of evidence to support procurement of airway equipment.
  • Audit: The network plans to encourage audit of airway management using a number of existing mechanisms, such as webAIRS and the Airway App.

Useful links

New Zealand Society of Anaesthetists (New Zealand)

Royal College of Anaesthetists  (United Kingdom)

National Audit Projects (NAPs) (NAP4 - United Kingdom)

Last updated 14:56 4.12.2023