Operating department practitioner job description

Operating department practitioners (ODP) play an essential role in the surgical team with their expertise and attention to detail being vital in ensuring surgery is carried out smoothly with patients receiving the best possible care.

What would a typical day look like for an Operating department practitioner?

A typical day can be intense and varied, and could include:

Preparation and set up:

  • Morning briefing – discuss the day’s schedule with the surgical team
  • Pre-operative prep - prepare the operating room, ensuring it is clean and sterile and has the necessary equipment for the day’s procedures
  • Patient prep – this may include helping patients change into surgical gowns and attaching monitoring devices

Intraoperative responsibilities:

  • Assisting surgeons – passing them instruments, supplies and sterile items during procedures
  • Operating equipment – operating and monitoring medical devices
  • Ensuring sterility – following infection control protocols to maintain sterile field within the operating room
  • Assisting Anaesthetists – with administering anaesthesia and monitoring vital signs of patient

Postoperative care:

  • Recovery room assistance – helping move patients to recovery rooms
  • Postoperative monitoring – observing vital signs and ensuring patient wakes safely
  • Documentation – completing surgery documentation including instruments used, procedures performed and any complications encountered

Where could I work?​

Operating Department Practitioners (ODPs) are an important part of the operating theatre team, working alongside surgeons, anaesthetists, theatre nurses and other healthcare professionals to help ensure that every surgical procedure is as safe and effective as possible.

There is currently a national shortage of ODPs in the UK, so there are lots of opportunities for jobs and this is likely to grow. Local employers such as the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospitals (NNUH), Queen Elizabeth Hospital Kings Lynn (QEH), James Paget University Hospitals (JPUH), West Suffolk Hospital (WSH) and Ipswich Hospital take on many of our graduates. You could find work within the NHS, as well as private hospitals around the UK. You could also work as an ODP within the Armed Forces. 

What would my starting salary be?​

Band 5, (Agenda for Change pay scales), rising with several years’ experience.  You should always check with the employer to confirm the pay rate for any post for which you are applying.​

What hours would I be working?​

Full time weekly hours will be 37.5 (this may include nights, weekend and shift work)​.

What is the career progression like for an operating department practitioner?

ODPs have various paths for career progression where they can advance their skills and take on more responsibilities. Options include specialising in anaesthetic ODP, advanced practice, teaching and education, management and leadership, research or consultancy and advisory roles.

To explore this career in more depth visit : NHS Health Careers

Are there more specialised roles in operating department practice?

ODPs can and do work in all three areas of perioperative care (anaesthetic, surgical or post-operative care).

Increasingly, ODPs can be found in clinical roles in A&E or Intensive Care but also taking on enhanced roles within the operating theatre such as Surgical First Assistant.

Many ODPs have gone on to other healthcare roles too, such as managers, researchers, or educators.

Do I need a degree to be an Operating department practitioner?

Yes, from 2024 all Operating Department Practitioners entering the Health and Care Professions register must have a BSc (Hons) Degree in Operating Department Practice.

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