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Operating department practitioner

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Operating department practitioners (ODP) support operating theatre staff and provide care to patients at all stages of an operation.

Salary, a pound sign Salary: £22,000 to £35,000 average per year
Hours, a clock face Hours: 37.5 per week

1. Entry requirements

You’ll need:

You may be able to apply for NHS funding for an approved course and get help towards the cost of your tuition fees and living expenses.

2. Skills required

You’ll need:

  • practical skills
  • the ability to concentrate for long periods of time
  • problem solving and organisational skills
  • the ability to act calmly under pressure

3. What you'll do

You’ll support patients before, during and after surgery. This will include assessing them after surgery to make sure they can be taken back to the ward. 

You’ll usually work within an anaesthetic, surgical or recovery team, but you might also work in accident and emergency, intensive care, day surgery clinics, maternity units or resuscitation teams.

Your day-to-day duties could include:

  • preparing the operating theatre and equipment
  • making sure specialist equipment is available for specific procedures
  • monitoring theatre cleanliness
  • ordering and rotating items of stock and drugs
  • providing the surgical team with the items they need during an operation
  • monitoring instruments
  • keeping accurate records
You’re likely to have a coaching and mentoring role if you’re based in a department with trainee ODPs. In some NHS Trusts you may be involved in training other healthcare professionals, like trainee paramedics.

4. Salary

Starter: £22,000

Experienced: £28,500

Highly Experienced: £35,000

These figures are a guide.

5. Working hours, patterns and environment

You’ll usually work 37.5 hours a week on a shift system covering evenings, nights and weekends. 

Overtime and on-call duty is also common in order to deal with emergencies.

You’ll work in sterile conditions in pre-operative anaesthetic areas, operating theatres and recovery rooms. These areas are clean and light but can be warm. 

You’ll wear surgical clothing and a mask.

Working in the theatre can be emotionally and physically demanding.

6. Career path and progression

With experience, you may be able to progress to team leader or senior ODP and manage an operating theatre unit.

You could also move into education, training and research.

Some ODPs take further training approved by the Royal College of Surgeons to work as surgical care practitioners. 

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Last updated: 10 September 2018