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What operating department practitioners do

ODPs have an important role in the three interconnected phases of peri-operative care:

  • anaesthetic phase
  • surgical phase
  • recovery phase.

The anaesthetic phase

During this phase, ODPs will:

  • assist the patient prior to surgery and provide individualised care
  • need an ability to communicate and work effectively within a team
  • undertake a role which will involve many clinical skills, such as the preparation of a wide range of specialist equipment and drugs. This includes; anaesthetic machines, intravenous equipment and devices to safely secure the patient's airway during anaesthesia.

The surgical phase

ODPs will participate as part of the operative team, in a number of roles, including the scrubbed role, application of aseptic technique, wound management and infection control.

During this phase, ODPs will:

  • wearing sterile gown and gloves, prepare all the necessary instruments and equipment for the procedure. This may involve complex machinery including microscopes, lasers and endoscopes
  • work alongside the surgeon, providing the correct surgical instruments and materials, in order to ensure safe and efficient completion of surgical procedures
  • promote health and safety and be responsible for ensuring that surgical instruments, equipment and swabs are all accounted for throughout the surgical procedure
  • undertake the circulating role, utilising communication and management skills, preparing the environment, equipment and acting as the link between the surgical team and other parts of the theatre and hospital
    be able to anticipate the requirements of the surgical team and respond effectively.

The recovery phase

 During this phase, ODPs will:

  • receive, assess and deliver patient care on their arrival into the recovery unit
  • monitor the patients physiological parameters and support them, providing appropriate interventions and treatment until the patient has recovered from the effects of the anaesthesia and/or surgery and is stable
  • assess the patient in order to ensure they can be discharged back to a surgical ward area
  • evaluate the care given during the peri-operative phases (anaesthetics, surgery, recovery).

Where do ODPs work?

ODPs are a vital part of the clinical team and provide professional expertise during the patients stay in hospital. Although they are primarily employed within operating theatres, they are increasingly being recognised for their skills in other critical care areas.

ODPs may be found working as:

  • scrubbed person
  • first assistant to the surgeon
  • surgical assistant.

ODPs also manage the preparation of the environment, equipment and act as the link between the surgical team and other parts of the operating theatre and hospital. They must be able to anticipate the requirements of the surgical team and respond effectively.

Experienced ODPs can take further training approved by the Royal College of surgeons to work as surgical care practitioners. This training typically takes 2 years, and enables them to undertake certain surgical procedures within clearly specified boudaries, under the supervision of a consultant surgeon.

Support worker roles

There are opportunities to work in a range of roles, alongside ODPs and other staff, in an operating theatre environment. These include porterstheatre support workers, healthcare assistants and assistant practitioners. For job vacancies, visit the  NHS Jobs website.