From education to employment

Operating department practitioner (degree)

Reference Number: ST0582

Details of standard

Occupational profile:

Operating Department Practitioners (ODPs) are registered healthcare professionals specialising in caring for people of all ages before, during & after surgery. ODPs therefore mainly work in operating departments. They work alongside other professionals (such as doctors and nurses) and take a lead role in ensuring a patient is safe during each stage of a patient’s journey through the operating theatre. ODPs must continually make professional decisions to ensure the patient receives the best care before, during and after their surgery. ODPs also ensure that the operating theatre environment is safe and effective and therefore have expertise in the management of specialist equipment & materials in a highly technical environment, for example handling surgical instruments, checking anaesthetic equipment, moving patients and giving medication ODPs must demonstrate confidence, compassion, competence & effective judgement; being responsible for their decisions. They must use evidence based practice to inform & evaluate the effectiveness of the actions they take with the aim of continually improving outcomes for patients. They are responsible for ensuing their own professional knowledge and skills through continuous professional development (CPD)& support the development of others.  

Day to Day activities:

Anaesthesia phase of care requires ODPs to:

  • Provide individualised care for patients prior to & throughout surgery or other procedures including reassurance & support during vulnerable times
  • Utilise a wide range of clinical skills knowledge & understanding to ensure a safe environment during the administration & maintenance of anaesthesia
  • Position patient to optimise surgical access. Maintain patient safety & dignity. Medicines management.
  • Prepare a wide range of specialist equipment & devices. Assist the anaesthetist in safely securing & maintaining the patients airway & physiological stability during anaesthesia.

Surgery phase of care requires ODPs to:

  • Work as part of a team to provide safe individualised care to patients during surgery
  • Professionally responsible for selection, preparation & provision of the correct sterile surgical equipment to the surgeon & being accountable for all surgical instruments, equipment & swabs throughout the procedure
  • Anticipate the requirements of the surgical team, responding appropriately & effectively. Ensuring the correct management of clinical specimens

The Post Anaesthetic Care phase involves:

Caring for the patient whilst in the post anaesthetic care Unit (PACU). Observing & monitoring a patients vital signs. Maintaining their airway & identifying & responding to changes in the patients physiological & psychological condition. Providing appropriate treatment including pain control & post-operative nausea & vomiting care; until the patient has recovered from the immediate effects of anaesthesia & has been assessed in order to ensure they are fit to be discharged from PACU.

Qualification requirements:

Apprentices will be required to complete a Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC) approved BSc (Hons) in Operating Department Practice. Apprentices without level 2 English & maths will need to achieve this level prior to completing the end-point assessment. For those with an education, health & care plan or a legacy statement, the apprenticeships English & maths minimum requirement is Entry Level 3 & British Sign Language qualification are an alternative to English qualifications for whom this is their primary language.

Professional registration:

On successful completion of an approved programme, apprentices are eligible to apply to the HCPC for registration as an Operating Department Practitioner, which is a requirement to practice under the protected title of Operating Department Practitioner

Additional information:

The apprentice must meet the 15 standards as set out in the Care Certificate[i] within 3 months of commencing an apprenticeship.



Typically 4 years 

Review date

After 3 years 


  You will be able to: You will know and understand:
Professional practice
  • Practice as an autonomous ODP, assessing patients in theatres & associated areas, exercising professional judgement to establish patient centred goals, & to accept, plan, initiate, modify, refer or cease treatment within prescribed limits
  • Recognise disease & trauma processes relevant to perioperative care
  • Accurately calculate & record prescribed drug doses
  • Change practice to account for new developments or changing contexts in what constitutes best practice in perioperative care,  through effective change management
  • Respond appropriately  to emergency situations
  • Conduct appropriate diagnostic, monitoring, treatment & therapy procedures safely & effectively
  • Undertake anaesthetic, surgical & post-anaesthesia care interventions including managing airways, cannulation, catheterisation & manual handling/positioning
  • Monitor airway, breathing & circulation
  • Monitor & record fluid balance & administer prescribed fluids appropriately
  • Monitor the effects of drugs & take appropriate action is response to significant change
  • Assess & monitor individuals pain status & administer prescribed pain relief appropriately
  • Select appropriate techniques & equipment; undertake & record thorough assessments & investigations.
  • Maintaining Basic, Intermediate or Advanced Life Support qualifications where appropriate
  • Assist anaesthesia with the use of medical devices & pharmacological (drugs) means
  • Maintain a sterile working area & safely & effectively perform aseptic technique (including scrubbing, gloving & gowning)
  • Perform scrub skills according in accordance with Perioperative Care Collaborative statement
  • How to apply professional knowledge, skills & experience in partnership with other professionals to optimise outcomes for patients
  • Normal anatomy & physiology of the human body & impact of disease, & trauma processes
  • Physiological parameters & how to interpret changes/deviations
  • How to order, store, issue, prepare & administer prescribed drugs & monitor their effects
  • The drugs that are used in ODP practice & how they affect the body
  • Safe practices in the use of medical devices use for diagnostic, monitoring or therapeutic purposes
  • Effective innovation, change management & planning techniques; theories of change mangement including tools & techniques in how to apply them
  • The principles & practices in the management of anaesthetic & surgical emergencies, e.g. a major haemorrhage or anaphylaxis.
  • The management & processes involved in the administration of blood & blood products
  • The use of research methodologies used in Operating Department Practice; the principles & applications of evidence based practice.
  • The principles of hand hygiene & asepsis
  • Sterilisation & decontamination of equipment processes
  • Safeguarding processes & how to raise concerns
  • Infection prevention & control policies & procedures
  • The role of the surgical first assistant in assisting with surgical interventions
  • Appropriate Moving & Handling Techniques
  • The structure & function of health & social care services in the UK
Professional values & behaviours
  • Recognise & take account of needs & diversity of individuals
  • Shape or structure your practice according to evidence based practice
  • Practice in a manner ensuring equality & act as an advocate for patients. Demonstrate care, compassion, confidence, courage, communication & commitment for patients at their most vulnerable.
  • Maintain the patients dignity at all times
  • Demonstrate an open, honest & courteous approach to patients relatives & colleagues
  • How to assess the nature & complexity of a patients needs
  • How to adapt practice to meet the needs of patients within the scope of ODP practice, national/local policy & latest evidence
  • The importance of maintaining patients comfort & dignity at all times
  • The requirements of Duty of candour regulations
  • Legal & ethical issues pertinent to ODP practice
  • Theatre etiquette
  • How to interact with patients, relatives & colleagues in a professional manner
Professional standards
  • Practice within the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC) Standards of Proficiency for ODP’s[i] & The College of Operating Department Practitioners Scope of Practice[ii]
  • The legislation, standards and protocol relating to ODP practice [iii].


  You will be able to: You will know and understand:
Leadership, management & partnership working
  • Effectively lead manage & delegate colleagues, working as part of the surgical team
  • Work collaboratively throughout the patients perioperative journey with the surgical team & others
  • Use the evidence base to promote innovation & improvement in operating department practice
  • Actively participate in audit, training & review activities
  • Manage yourself in emergency & stressful situations.
  • Demonstrate self-awareness & impact on others.
  • Reflect on own practice & challenge self & others
  • The concept of leadership & using personal initiative
  • The value of participation in training, supervision & mentoring
  • The importance of working collaboratively with those who provide services
  • How to reflect effectively & facilitate change in perioperative practice
  • Team dynamics, communication & patient safety with a reference to human factors
  • The value & impact of research, audit & evaluation on operating department practice
  • The importance of maintaining own health & well-being; ways to manage & reduce occupational stress

Communication & information

  • Safeguard confidential information, relating to patients at all times, consistently applying data protection principles
  • Apply a range of communication strategies & skills within the multidisciplinary team to ensure patient safety & dignity
  • Use effective communication skills to support the patient at different stages of their care
  • Identify barriers to communication, their potential impact & strategies for management
  • ensure your own behaviour supports others to work in ways that are consistent with individuals’ beliefs and preferences, that regard diversity positively and that support anti-discriminatory practice
  • Maintain care records that are fit for purpose & process them according to legislation
  • Formulate care plans including setting of timescales
  • Analyse & critically evaluate information collected & appropriately act upon it
  • The concept of confidentiality & the principles of information governance
  • The importance of communication in plain English;  a range of verbal and non-verbal communication techniques appropriate to age, mental capacity  cognitive abilitiesactive listening and observing skills
  • Communication theroies and how they are applicable to the perioperative environment
  • How a patients communication is affected by varying levels of consciousness
  • legal and work setting requirements on equality, diversity, discrimination and rights
  • The importance of providing patients with appropriate information to make informed decisions
  • The importance of managing records & information in accordance with legislation, protocols & guidelines, for example recording swab & instrument counts to ensure nothing is left behind in the patients body after surgery
  • Principles & practices of the consent process
  • Risk management & incident reporting processes in line with organisational policy
  • The impact of age, culture, ethnicity, gender, socio-economic status & spiritual or religious beliefs on communication


[i] For more details about the care certificate see:  Accessed 21/06/17

[ii] HCPC Standards of Proficiency Operating Department Practitioners 2013 Accessed 21/06/17

[iii] College of Operating Department Practitioners Scope of Practice

[iv] Legislation, standards and protocol see footnotes above plus:  1.,performanceandethics.pdf;  2.; 3.; 4.; 5.; 6.


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