Operating department practitioner

National Operating Department Practitioner (ODP) day, in the UK, is the 14th of May and the inaugural celebration was 2018. This day provides an opportunity for ODPs across the country to highlight their role within healthcare.[1]

Operating Department Practitioners (ODPs) are specialist allied healthcare professionals[2] or clinicians involved in the planning and delivery of Perioperative Care.[3] They are primarily employed in Surgical Operating Departments but may also work directly within or further their training to facilitate working within a variety of acute clinical settings. These include; pre-hospital emergency care, emergency departments, intensive care units (ICUs), endoscopy suites, interventional radiology, cardiac catheter suites, obstetric theatres and reproductive medicine.

Operating Department Practitioners may be employed directly as or may further their training to become Resuscitation Officers, Advanced Critical Care Pactitioners, Research Practitioners, University Lecturers, Departmental Managers, Perioperative Team Leaders, Surgical Care Practitioners or Quality Improvement Facilitators.[4]

Operating Department Practitioners make up 1 of the 14 Allied Health Professions as defined by NHS England and are professionally autonomous practitioners who hold a Protected Title within the United Kingdom (UK). As of 2004 the profession has been regulated by the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC)[5] and thus falls under the remit of the Chief Allied Health Professions Officer (CAHPO). Since 2017 there have been upwards of 13,000 registrants added to the HCPC's register.[5] ODPs are also supported and advised by their professional body the College of Operating Department Practitioners (CODP). The College represents practitioners in various aspects of professional, educational and workplace matters, entering into its 75th year of existence in 2020.[6] ODPs work as members of multi-disciplinary teams that include Anaesthetists, Surgeons, Nurses, Radiographers and TSWs (Theatre Support Workers).[7]

Scope of PracticeEdit

Operating Department Practitioners are subject to profession-specific standards of proficiency as laid out by the Health & Care Professions Council[8]. Alongside this, their professional role is also broadly defined by the College of Operating Department Practitioners (CODP)'s Scope of Practice document as published by the College in 2009. The College went on to publish a national cirriculum document in 2018 which demonstrated the revised BSc (Hons) Operating Department Practice Curriculum.[9]

Anaesthetic PractitionerEdit

Anaesthetic Practitioners (APs) are highly skilled and dynamic healthcare professionals who make up part of the multidisciplinary clinical workforce. Their primary role is to function in tandem alongside their colleagues in order to establish a team which can effectively provide and maintain safe anaesthesia during surgery. This role requires the application of evidence-based practice and critical thinking alongside a range of professional and clinical abilities.

Prior to surgical intervention the anaesthetic practitioner will be tasked with completing a thorough and detailed diagnostic check of the anaesthetic machine, ensuring it has met its safety requirements and is fully operational. This includes the correct function and availability of essential medical gases and associated ventilatory equipment and breathing apparatus. The AP is also responsible for ensuring that critical controlled and emergency medications are accessible prior to the induction of anaesthesia. They are also routinely charged as being custodians of the controlled drugs/scheduled medications held within their dedicated theatre, being assigned security keys which remain on their person throughout the day.

The AP is responsible for conducting a pre-operative assessment of the patient prior to their admission to the department. These assessments may vary and are institutionally dependant, but may include assessment of the mouth opening, protruding or unsecure dentition, range of movement in the cervical spine, current pregnancy status, fasting status, past medical history, known medication/food allergen status, history of communicable diseases or blood born viruses, history of post-operative nausea and vomiting or individual/familial adverse reaction to anaesthetic agents. During an emergency clinical scenario where immediate treatment and response is required, the Anaesthetist (Medical Practitioner), may verbally request that the Anaesthetic Practitioner administer prescribed medications in response to the situation[13].

Perioperative PractitionerEdit

ODPs prepare sterile instruments, swabs, consumables and any other equipment required throughout an operation. They work alongside the surgeon(s) within the sterile field. The ODP is accountable for the swabs, instruments and consumables used throughout an operation, to ensure nothing is left inside the patient or is missing.

ODPs may also be the first assistant to the surgeon assisting throughout the operation.

Rarely, ODPs may assist in a circulating role during the surgical stage of a patient's care. In this role, they pass extra materials to the surgical practitioner, help position the patient on the operating table, and plan ahead to supply what the surgical team may need.[14] They may also set up extra equipment and act as a link between the surgical team and the rest of the hospital.

Postoperative PractitionerEdit

When the operation has finished, the patient is taken to the recovery unit, where an ODP will monitor his or her condition, providing airway management if needed and recognise and record the patient's physiological signs. The ODP may administer treatments such as, the administration of prescribed drugs, enabling the patient to fully recover from the effects of anaesthesia. The ODP will liaise with other departments and staff such as, the ward staff, porters, consultants, to safely discharged the patient back to a wars environment.


A Diploma of Higher Education (DipHE) is the minimum standard of training required to work as an ODP in the UK. An undergraduate degree BSc (Hons) in Operating Department Practice is a more common standard for entry into the profession.[15] A DipHE usually takes two years to complete, with a BSC (Hons) requiring three. By 2010 there were 27 universities and colleges in the UK offering a qualification in operating department practice.[16]

Apprenticeships programmes have recently been introduced, as an alternative pathway for individuals to train as ODPs. Apprentices are required to complete a HCPC approved BSc (Hons) degree in Operating Department Practice, whilst additionally meeting the required 15 standards set out in the Care Certificate within 3 months of commencement. The duration of ODP apprenticeship courses, typically takes 4 years to complete.[17]

Once qualified, ODPs can further their clinical and professional development by obtaining additional training and/or competencies related to their role. Courses are usually provided by their individual trusts or national providers such as universities or related colleges, RCOA. Additional skills including of but not limited to venepuncture, intravenous drug administration, venous cannulation and urinary catheterization.

As healthcare professionals, ODPs can also obtain certifications in cardiopulmonary resuscitation courses from the Resuscitation Council (UK), including: Immediate life support, paediatric immediate life support and advanced life support. [18]

Role ExpansionEdit

With localised training within NHS trusts, ODPs can expand on their roles outside the traditional theatre setting. This has seen Operating Department Practitioners being utilised, in other specialist roles and critical care settings within the hospital environment.

Qualified and experienced ODPs can apply and undertake approved training by the Royal College of Surgeons. Progressing to surgical care practitioners, assisting in some surgical procedures under the supervision of a consultant surgeon.[19]

ODPs with a minimum of three years clinical experience with a degree level qualification, can apply for training to become an anaesthesia associate. Upon successful completion of an Anaesthesia Associate Postgraduate Diploma, practitioners are invited to become an affiliate of the Royal College of Anaesthetists.[20]

Professional organizationsEdit

The HCPC recognises two professional bodies for ODPs:[5]

ODPs are also eligible to apply for associate membership within the Difficult Airway Society.[23]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ unison.org.uk https://www.unison.org.uk/events/national-operating-department-practitioners-odp-day/. Retrieved 17 May 2020. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  2. ^ "ODPs to come under the allied health professions umbrella". Unison – ODPs to come under the allied health professions umbrella. Unison. Retrieved 8 May 2020.
  3. ^ Unison. "College of Operating Department Practitioners". Unison. Unison. Retrieved 8 May 2020.
  4. ^ "Operating department practice: area of practice". TargetJobs. Retrieved 8 May 2020.
  5. ^ a b c "About regulation: Professions: Operating department practitioners". Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC). Retrieved 24 March 2017.]
  6. ^ "College of Operating Department Practitioners (CODP)". College of Operating Department Practitioners (CODP). CODP. Retrieved 8 May 2020.
  7. ^ "Operating Department Practitioner" (PDF). NHS Careers – Operating Department Practitioner. NHS Careers. Retrieved 8 May 2020.
  8. ^ "Standards of proficiency – Operating department practitioners". Standards of proficiency – Operating department practitioners. Health & Care Professions Council. Retrieved 8 May 2020.
  9. ^ "Curriculum Document" (PDF). Unison/CODP. CODP. Retrieved 9 May 2020.
  10. ^ "Operating department practitioner". www.healthcareers.nhs.uk. 26 September 2016.
  11. ^ "Operating department practitioner". www.healthcareers.nhs.uk. 26 September 2016.
  12. ^ "Operating department practitioner". www.healthcareers.nhs.uk. 26 September 2016.
  13. ^ "CODP – Scope of Practice" (PDF). CODP – Scope of Practice. College of Operating Department Practitioners.
  14. ^ "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2017-03-20. Retrieved 2017-03-20.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  15. ^ "Job profiles: Operating department practitioner". nationalcareersservice.direct.gov.uk. Retrieved 25 September 2016.
  16. ^ "The Anaesthesia Team" (PDF). Association of Anaesthetists of Great Britain and Ireland (AAGBI). May 2010. p. 11. Retrieved 26 September 2016.
  17. ^ "Operating Department Practice Integrated Degree". Institute of Apprenticeships and Technical Education. March 2020. p. 1. Retrieved 28 March 2020.
  18. ^ "Courses". Resuscitation Council UK. March 2020. p. 1. Retrieved 28 March 2020.
  19. ^ "Operating department practitioner training and development". National Health Service. March 2020. p. 1. Retrieved 25 March 2020.
  20. ^ "Anaesthesia Associates". Royal College of Anaesthetists. March 2020. p. 1. Retrieved 25 March 2020.
  21. ^ "College of Operating Department Practitioners". www.unison.org.uk. Retrieved 26 September 2016.
  22. ^ "About AfPP". afpp.org.uk. Association for Perioperative Practice (AfPP). Retrieved 26 September 2016.
  23. ^ "About Membership Details". das.uk.com. Difficult Airway Society. Retrieved 28 March 2020.

External linksEdit