Operating department practitioners (ODPs) support theatre staff while they carry out complex procedures, and care for theatre patients before, during and immediately after surgery. They work alongside surgeons, anaesthetists and theatre nurses.
You could be:
preparing drugs, drips and dressings
preparing all the necessary instruments and equipment for the procedure
standing by during the operation, handing over each instrument, swab or dressing as the surgeon needs it and counting them all at the end
reassuring the patients before and during the administration of the anaesthetics, helping lift the patients on to the operating table and monitoring them while they are unconscious
helping with resuscitation if a patient stops breathing
taking patients to the recovery room, checking up on them as they come round and arranging for their transfer back to the ward
checking stock levels of theatre supplies and keeping records.
You would normally work within either an anaesthetic, surgical or recovery team.
ODPs working in the NHS are generally on Band 5, £30,229 to £37,664 a year. The current pay scales are from April 2023.
Pay will be different for ODPs working outside the NHS.
You work shifts would cover evenings, weekends and public holidays.
Part time work is available and on call duty is common.
An operation might unexpectedly last hours past the end of your shift.
You work mostly in the operating theatre which is bright, clean, sterile, warm and air-conditioned.
You wear a face mask and head covering as well as surgical gloves, gown and shoes.
You must stay alert while standing in the one position for hours at a time.
You must get used to blood and other unpleasant sights and smells. There can be a slight risk of infection.
The work can be stressful and emergency situations can occur at any time.
To work as an ODP with the NHS you need to study for a qualification approved by the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC).
To work with the NHS, you should apply for a trainee ODP post, which involves a 2-year programme with one of the NHS Scotland health boards, delivered in partnership with the University of the West of Scotland. You would complete the DipHE Operating Department Practice. The training programme includes online learning, practice placements, and mentor support. From September 2024 the DipHE will be replaced by an undergraduate degree.
Entry requirements are 2 Highers and 3 subjects at National 5, or relevant national qualifications at SCQF Level 6.
The University of the West of Scotland are the only Scottish institution to offer a course in this career, and you need to be currently employed in an NHS hospital. However, the College of Operating Department Practitioners (CODP) have a list of approved courses on their website. Currently they are all full time courses offered in England.
Experience in hospital work such as nursing auxiliary work is useful.
You must be fit and have stamina. You will need to sit a pre-entry medical test.
You must be over 18 when you start work.
You will require a satisfactory criminal record check from Disclosure Scotland to show that you are suitable for this type of work. Contact Disclosure Scotland for details on the type you would need.
The NHS trainee programme involves a 2 year university programme involving a blend of practice placements, and online study.
Once your training is complete, you wil be able to register with the Health and Care Professions Council as a registered Operating Department Practitioner.
Once you are qualified, you will be expected to undertake continuing professional development (CPD) to maintain your registration with the HCPC. In your first year after qualifying, you will get extra support and guidance through the Flying Start programme.
After training and experience, you can move into more senior grades, such as a surgical care practitioner, or a physician's assistant.
You could also move into other areas, such as education and training.
The Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC) is the UK-wide regulatory body responsible for setting and maintaining standards of professional training, performance and conduct in the following health care professions: Arts Therapists; Audiologist; Biomedical Scientist; Chiropodist and Podiatrist; Clinical Scientist; Dietician; Dramatherapist; Occupational Therapist; Operating Department Practitioner; Orthoptist; Paramedic; Physiotherapist; Practitioner Psychologist; Prosthetist and Orthotist; Radiographer; Speech and Language Therapist. (The HCPC may regulate other healthcare professions in the future.) The HCPC website contains a register of all approved courses in the above professions.