Celebrating Operating Department Practitioner Day at Warrington Hospital

AT Warrington Hospital, you will find a specialist team who help patients every day.

But unless you have met them in person, you will probably never have heard of operating department practitioners.

The trained professionals are highly skilled members of the operating team, supporting patients through their surgery and in recovery.

ODPs also work outside the operating theater, and this was particularly notable during the Covid-19 pandemic, where they cared for patients in intensive care.

We are shining the light on these exceptional workers as today, Saturday, is Operating Department Practitioner Day.

This year’s theme is’ inspiring the next generation ‘to become a member of the team which often contains some of the NHS’ most unsung heroes.

One such member is ODP Chris Cunliffe, who has risen through the ranks at the Lovely Lane site into a job he loves.

“My typical day involves coming in and preparing the theaters for surgeries that day, checking what procedures are booked in and get the right equipment ready,” he said.

Operating department practitioner Chris Cunliffe

“We work across anesthetics, scrub and recovery, covering the trauma theater which involves broken bones for example, the emergency theater, and the elective theater, which is more planned procedures such as cancer or bowel operations.

“I left school with Bs and Cs, shocking my teachers with that, and there was nothing in place. To fund life, I started with the trust as a theater cleaner.

“From there I became a healthcare assistant on the wards, taking to that like a duck to water, and natural progression took me to the next level by becoming an assistant practitioner in theater.”

Previously reported by the Warrington Guardian, Chris was part of a pilot apprentice ODP scheme for Warrington Hospital to ‘grow its own’ practitioners, graduating this year.

“It is a very rewarding job, from patient care to knowing you have made a difference in people’s lives,” he added.

“Speaking to people one-to-one, you leave at the end of the day feeling like you have made a real difference.

“There are not many jobs where you are happy to come to work, but this is one of them.”

Another integral cog in the ODP team is Lee Baines, who qualified in 2006 after deciding on a career change from engineering, and he is hoping to see more people become ODPs.

“You start off the job learning your trade across a range of areas, utilizing all the skills attained over the years and consolidating them,” he explained.

Warrington Hospital

Warrington Hospital

“The future is great for ODPs, and there are so many different directions you can go. The role is amazing.

“You find yourself working with so many wonderful people and meeting so many wonderful patients.

“You get put in positions where you are developing and finding new ways of working, so you have to be very dynamic and receptive to change if you are looking at becoming an ODP.”

Having been through Covid, which Lee described as an ‘absolute nightmare’, ways of working have changed, but the opportunity to develop are still there.

“If you look forward to continuing your development, the role is massive, and you can move forward as much as you like,” Lee commented.

“It is an absolute pleasure of a job – every day is different, and the team here at Warrington Hospital is absolutely fantastic.

“The ODPs here are the best in the region and are fantastic. The knowledge, expertise and way they apply themselves to emergency situations is phenomenal, and it is a pleasure to work alongside them.

“Management are so good in letting you develop and support – they are very supportive and help you to achieve anything, and when you do that, the patient receives the best and most optimum care that you can provide.”

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