RELAX Anaesthetics

RELAX Anaesthetics is an NHS Innovation Challenge Acorn award-winning app which helps to calm children down before an operation


Based on pioneering scientific research by Chelsea and Westminster Hospital
Uses specific algorithms and UX principles to engage children
Reducing the child's anxiety creates maximum efficiency and significant cost savings

The brief

When children become stressed before an operation it can delay surgery, or result in operations being cancelled which can be stressful for patients and very costly for hospitals. Chelsea and Westminster Hospital’s research showed that children who were relaxed required less anaesthetic to sedate them before an operation and they wanted to pioneer a way of acting on this finding.

The solution

RELAX Anaesthetics is a tablet-based app designed for children from 2 to 16 years old, providing art, music, games and activities to help calm them shortly before they are anaesthetised for surgery. Specific code and algorithms were developed to suggest the most appropriate content for each child based on age, gender or interest.


The results

The apps help reduce the child’s anxiety and consequently the amount of anaesthetic they need. Aside from the hugely important emotional benefits, reducing the amount of anaesthetic is safer for the child and means a speedier recovery. This reduction of anaesthesia also represents a serious saving in theatre costs, as does the cannula method of induction, more often achievable in a relaxed child.

RELAX Anaesthetics has since been picked up for use by other NHS Foundation Trusts and won the NHS Innovation Challenge Acord Award and the AAGBI Innovation Award.

"I would say RELAX Anaesthetics is transformational! The children become absorbed in the games, even those for whom there was some discomfort with the cannulation, they were very easily and quickly distracted again by their determination to complete a game."

Consultant Anaesthetics and Intensive Care - Lead clinician for Paediatrics, NHS Ayrshire and Arran


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