Multidisciplinary guidance for safe tracheostomy care during the COVID‐19 pandemic published

15 May 2020

The COVID‐19 pandemic is causing a surge in patients who need a tracheostomy. These temporary tubes are inserted into the neck to help recovery from prolonged ventilation in the critically ill and are lifesaving for about 10% of patients admitted to Intensive Care Units; often the sickest and most complex patients. The professional bodies representing staff who care for patients with tracheostomies during illness, rehabilitation, and recovery have collaborated together to produce standard guidelines – this included the Faculty through our Chair of the Professional Affairs & Safety Committee, Pete Macnaughton. This work compliments NHS England and NHS Improvement’s National Patient Safety Improvement Programme’s ‘Safe Tracheostomy Care’ workstream as part of the NHS COVID‐19 response. 

These consensus recommendations are based on wide-ranging expert opinion and informed by the best available evidence,” said Dr Brendan McGrathNational Clinical Advisor for Tracheostomy & Intensive Care Consultant at Manchester University Hospital.They will help standardise the approach to managing complex patients with tracheostomies and improve the quality and safety of care delivered by diverse staff.”

The project brings together work from surgeons, anaesthetists, intensive care staff, nurses, physiotherapists, speech & language therapists and importantly, from patient groups. Patients with tracheostomies are particularly vulnerable to problems with care and these guidelines build on previous cross-speciality projects to improve safety. Due to the surge in numbers, patients with tracheostomies are sometimes being cared for in unfamiliar locations by staff with limited tracheostomy experience. These guidelines are linked to educational resources from the National Tracheostomy Safety Project and NHS England, and will help font-line deliver the best possible care.

The paper is published on-line in the journal Anaesthesia.

The National Tracheostomy Safety Project (NTSP) is a charity that partners with staff and patients to improve care through education. Multidisciplinary resources for staff and patients have been developed since 2010 and are housed at