14/05/2020 | Press releases

Quick-to-adapt theatre staff celebrated on National ODP Day

Hospital theatre staff working at East Suffolk and North Essex NHS Foundation Trust are being praised for adapting quickly and retraining to help support their colleagues and look after COVID-19 patients during the last few weeks.

ODPs, or Operating Department Practitioners, work with clinicians across surgical procedures at Ipswich and Colchester Hospitals. Their skilled role is focused on working with anaesthetists, surgeons or in recovery, alongside other clinicians such as theatre nurses.

The ODP is a vital part of the anaesthetic and surgical team working in the operating theatre and other areas of the hospital, such as recovery, endoscopy, vascular access, resus education and management within theatres.


ODP Helen Clark

They ensure the patient is monitored throughout, and their role may include preparing the theatre, ensuring the necessary equipment is available and safe to use, collecting the patient for their operation, assisting the anaesthetist and surgeon, as well as recovering the patient following their surgery. ODPs also assist in the intubation and airway maintenance and anaesthetic of the patient, as well assisting the surgeon in preparing and passing the instruments.

As routine surgery had to slow down due to changes made across the Trust because of COVID-19, ODPs have had to adapt, retrain and work in new areas.

Paul Culley, Lead Educator for Theatres and Anaesthetics at Ipswich Hospital for ESNEFT, said: “ODPs are the backbone of theatres – they wouldn’t run without them. Over the last few weeks, the team has moved mountains to retrain and upskill so they can work in areas such as CCU (critical care unit) and PPE (personal protective equipment) intubation supporting colleagues in those areas.

“There’s been a massive effort by everyone to retrain in-house and it was done really quickly – within 48 hours. Our wonderful ODPs have been manning the emergency theatres, trauma theatres and maintaining urgent surgery lists too, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.”

Part of the changes within the team has been the development of MERIT Teams (Mobile Emergency Rapid Intubation Team). They are four-man teams working around the clock to attend all COVID-19 related intubations, cardiac arrests, trauma calls, resus intubation calls as well as some inter-hospital transfers where specialist airway assistance is required. ODPs are one of the four team members, alongside a Consultant Anaesthetist, Junior Anaesthetist and a Theatre Assistant.

Paul, and his counterpart at Colchester Hospital, Wendy Hobbs, are celebrating the work of their teams as part of National ODP Day on Thursday 14th May 2020. The day offers an opportunity to highlight the work of the Trust’s 65 Operating Department Practitioners, and their skills in ensuring patients are cared for and safe.

Wendy Hobbs, Theatres Education Lead for Colchester Hospital, added: “Some of our ODPs at Colchester are now working in the ITU (intensive care unit), looking after very sick ventilated patients, monitoring pumps, medication, feeds as well as monitoring ventilated patients. The training has included medication training to support this new role. ODPs have not been covered by the trust to administer medication before.”

Wendy praised other colleagues across the Trust who helped ensure the ODP team were upskilled fast. “Training was set up, competencies were set up for staff to meet, they had face-to-face training and everyone has pulled together to make it happen. I’m very proud of the way the ODPs have stepped up – it’s really brought our profession to the fore in the Trust.”

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