Operating Department Practitioners are Allied Health Professionals who play a major role in each phase of a patient’s operation and recovery.

They provide support for a variety of patients from very small children to older adults and everything between.

ODPs manage the preparation of the operating theatres, preparing all the necessary instruments and equipment for surgery. They use their skill and judgement to provide the correct surgical instruments and materials to other members of the team, anticipating the requirements and responding to the needs of the patient at any given time. They also provide a crucial link between the surgical team and other parts of the operating theatre and hospital.

In anaesthetics, an ODP supports the patient before surgery, and helps prepare a wide range of specialist equipment and drugs.

An ODP also receives, assesses and delivers care on the patient’s arrival into the recovery area after an operation. They provide appropriate treatment until the patient has recovered from the effects of the anaesthesia and/or surgery.

ODPs also work in critical care environments such as intensive care and A&E, making sure the right support is on hand in emergency situations.


The job is really varied because we play a part in each stage of the patient’s journey through theatres.

We work alongside the anaesthetic team to prepare patients for their operation when they first arrive with us. This means we need to have the technical knowledge of the equipment and drugs, and the personal touch to make sure the patient has a good experience and is calm before their surgery.

In the operating theatre itself we are constantly anticipating what is needed next and making sure everything is ready at the right time. It’s great to be part of a team that work together to deliver such significant results for patients.

We then have the privilege of looking after patients in their recovery too, monitoring them and making sure they are well enough to return to a ward.

Every day can be different, because we also support in emergency situations and critical care environments when needed. So we could be called to support a patient who needs urgent anaesthetic support too.

You’ll need to study for a two year diploma or three year degree in operating department practice at university. You will usually need a minimum of five GCSEs at grades 4-9/A-C or equivalent plus A-level or equivalent qualifications. These will vary depending on the university so check with the universities you are considering applying to. You will be expected to do both academic work at the university and clinical placements within a hospital or a number of hospitals on a rotational basis. Once you’ve completed your degree, you need to register with the Health and Care Professions Council before you can start practising. 

Why I chose to be an ODP: