Resuscitation Council updates its resuscitation guidelines with some major changes

Healthcare providers should implement the changes within the next twelve months. 

Matt Bodell
6 May 2021

It is the first major update to the resuscitation guidelines since 2015.

The Resuscitation Council UK (RCUK) has published its updated 2021 guidelines and has called upon healthcare providers to implement the changes within the next twelve months.


It is the first major update to the guidelines since 2015 other than additional recommendations for personal protective equipment (PPE) in emergency situations early last year.

While there are no major changes in the 2021 guidelines for Adult Basic Life Support (BLS) and Adult Advanced Life Support providers (ALS), there are some minor updates. However, there is a greater recognition that patients with both in- and out-of-hospital cardiac arrest have premonitory signs, and that many of these arrests may be preventable.

Significant changes have been made to the Paediatric Advanced Life Support (PALS) including; new guidance on ventilation once a tracheal tube is in place, capnography, fluid resuscitation in children and infants with shock, and the use of vasoactive drugs in paediatric cardiac arrest care.

Minor changes have also been made to the newborn resuscitation and support of transition of infants at birth guidelines including; changes to umbilical cord clamping recommendations, the initial delivered oxygen concentration now varies according to gestation, and intraosseous access recommendations.


The new guidelines now also include resuscitation recommendations covering obesity, mass casualty incidents and cardiac arrest in sport – all of which are becoming increasingly frequent the RCUK says.

You can read the executive summary of changes on the RCUK website.

“Resuscitation Council UK is pleased to be publishing these Guidelines,” says Jonathan Wyllie, RCUK President, “and we are grateful to those who gave up their time amidst the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic to ensure that best practice and excellence in resuscitation remain on top of the agenda when it comes to positive outcomes from cardiac arrests and decision-making in emergency care planning.”

“We look forward to these Guidelines being implemented across the United Kingdom, and value the potential impact they have to further improve patient survival and care.”


RCUK courses and course materials are being updated as a result of the 2021 Guidelines publication and will apply to courses running after July and August 2021.

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