14 May 2021
They play a crucial role behind the closed doors of the theatres.
Operating Department Practitioners (ODPs) support the anaesthetic, surgery and recovery teams – and care for patients undergoing surgical procedures – every day at the Royal Shrewsbury Hospital (RSH) and Princess Royal Hospital (PRH) in Telford.
During the pandemic, they saw their roles change with many re-deployed to support their critical care colleagues looking after patients with COVID-19 when some theatres were turned into extra Intensive Therapy Unit (ITU) space.
Today is National ODP Day, a day to shine light on the contribution ODPs make every day and showcase their profession and the important role they play in patient care.
Mark Cheetham, Medical Director for Surgery, Anaesthetics and Cancer, said: “Today we highlight the invaluable work our ODPs do every day – supporting colleagues and helping to care for our patients at each stage of their journey through our theatres.
“I am incredibly proud of how they adapted their roles during the pandemic to work in different areas, using their skills to help care for patients in our ITUs during what was a very challenging time, and I would like to thank them all.
“I hope that by shining a light on the important work they do in our hospitals, it will encourage others considering working in the NHS to pursue a varied and very rewarding career.”
ODP Steve Bennett is Team Leader Trauma at RSH providing specialist clinical support across Anaesthetics and Surgery as part of a multidisciplinary team. Steve assists in leading the Orthopaedic Trauma team, managing staff and resources to ensure safe and efficient patient care.
He said: “I joined the Army Medical Services as a young 16-year-old. When it came time to choose my career option, the role of the ODP won hands down above all other career choices. I have never looked back.
“The role is multifaceted across anaesthetics and surgery, supporting all surgical specialties with regular excursions to A&E Resus, ITU, CT and X-ray and inter-hospital transfer of critically ill patients.
“During the first wave of the pandemic, my role predominantly switched to supporting Intensive Care delivering patient care, where I spent my 60th birthday. We had to change the way we work, and I found this change in role very educational, teaching me new skills which was very rewarding.”
Abby Lewis has been practising as an ODP for two years and works within all the specialties of the theatre department at PRH covering the scrub role, anaesthetics and recovery, alongside working in maternity. She also attends emergency situations in A&E.
Abby said: “My main role is currently in anaesthetics, working alongside anaesthetists, ensuring a safe working environment for patients and colleagues. This means having a vast and ever-growing knowledge of pharmaceuticals and equipment. I pre-empt emergency situations and I have to have situational awareness to help and support with decision-making when these circumstances arise.
“I am also the patient’s advocate when they are unable to communicate for themselves; and I help patients to be less anxious in an unknown environment to them.
“You are an integral part of working within the hospital, as no one can have an anaesthetic without the support of an ODP.”
Kosta Levkov has worked as an ODP at RSH since 2018, and his role involves preparing a wide range of specialist equipment and drugs, including anaesthetic machines, intravenous equipment and devices that safely secure the patient’s airway during anaesthesia.
Kosta said: “I wanted to work as part of a team that really makes a difference to people’s lives by caring for patients when they are at their most vulnerable. The needs and requirements of each patient change which keeps work interesting and challenging. It is rewarding because you can instantly see the difference you make each day.
“I would recommend this career to anyone who is interested in theatres. As medical science moves on, so does medical practice so you will always be learning and implementing new things. There are excellent career progression opportunities.”
Sammi Scriven is an ODP at PRH and has worked at SaTH for the last ten years. She said: “I enjoy being an ODP because we are the last person a patient sees once anaesthetised and the first when they wake up, so you have a huge impact on the patient’s surgical journey, which is very rewarding.”
Jane Ndhlovu is an ODP at PRH, first joining the Trust as a student in 2018. Jane said: “I receive patients after they have had their operation. I assess their general condition and vital signs to make sure they are within the appropriate physiological ranges and if not, interventions are carried out to treat their condition. When the patient is fully recovered from their anaesthetic, we transfer them back to the ward.
“Being part of a patient’s perioperative journey is also rewarding because I have the opportunity to make the experience positive for the patient, especially those that have never been to theatre before.
“On a daily basis you are constantly learning and thinking because every patient you meet is different, and adapting becomes second nature. I would definitely recommend the job to anyone thinking about it as a career.”
Pippa Howard is RSH Team Leader Recovery and Anaesthetics, and her role is to provide support to patients during their anaesthesia and recovery period.
Pippa said: “The role of an ODP also extends beyond the theatre department and into the ICU for patients needing support with their breathing which will involve assisting in the intubation of patients. We are also on call for patients in the A&E department and also inter-hospital transfers with critically ill patients.
“During the first and second wave, we joined the ICU teams in looking after the severely affected COVID-19 patients. As an ODP it has given me a great sense of pride to have been able to step up and represent our NHS in this capacity.
“Being an ODP is such a challenging and rewarding role, you leave work with a huge sense of accomplishment. No two patients are the same and the way in which we can help patients brings such a sense of achievement.
“We leave work at the end of the day having made a difference or even, on occasion, helped save a life.”