Information provided is designed to support potential and existing operating department practitioners (ODPs) and those who support them in practice to deliver high quality perioperative care.
They are highly skilled and essential members of the surgical team, providing care and support to patients during their operative procedures.
The role of the ODP essentially covers three interconnected phases of perioperative care; the anaesthetic phase – assisting the anaesthetist for example by preparing equipment and medicines, the surgical phase – assisting the surgeon for example by providing the correct surgical instruments and the recovery phase – monitoring the patient’s recovery.
ODPs are level 5 practitioners who:
More information is available on the role of the ODP including career stories on NHS Careers.
If you would like to learn about the history of the ODPs you can find out more in the paper published on Unison’s website The history of the College of Operating Practitioners and the ODP Profession
In Scotland, the diploma programme is delivered in partnership with the University of the West of Scotland.
Diploma of Higher Education (DipHE) Operating Department Practice
The DipHE in Operating Department Practice (ODP) is delivered by the University of West of Scotland (UWS) and accredited by the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC). The programme prepares safe, competent and caring ODPs who can deliver high quality care in all areas of perioperative practice including scrub, anaesthesia, surgery and post-anaesthesia person centred care.
This two-year full-time programme combines online theory and work-based learning through practice placement in a variety of perioperative settings. As such, students will engage with online learning while practicing simultaneously as an ODP student, learning and developing clinical skills within their home health board.
On completion of the programme, students will be eligible to apply for registration with the HCPC as an Operating Department Practitioner.
Health boards each undertake their own recruitment to the DipHE ODP programme, with differing employment models in place across Scotland. The process is co-ordinated via the health board appointed regional lead who manages the service provision and liaises with University of West of Scotland. The lead for each region is detailed below:.
|Region||Health Boards||Regional lead contact|
NHS Ayrshire & Arran
The recruitment window is May–July each year, with online induction week in late August and programme commencement early September.
Full details of the DipHE can be accessed on the University of West of Scotland website.
This programme will run for the last time in 2023. This is due to a change to minimum education level for ODPs from diploma to degree level as detailed below.
Following UK wide consultation, the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC) agreed implementation of a change to the minimum education level required to register as an ODP from diploma to a degree. The change will come into place by September 2024. This means that no programme can recruit to anything other than a degree route from September 2024 for progression and registration as an ODP with HCPC.
What does this mean in practical terms?
The change from a 2-year diploma level programme to a 3-year degree level programme will result in no ODPs qualifying in 2026. This is detailed in the graphic below.
This change has been widely communicated to workforce planners, educators, service and workforce leads to allow appropriate recruitment contingencies to be considered before and after 2026.
More detailed information can be found on the HCPC website.
Those who want to consider a role as an ODP, can get more information on how to become an ODP on NHS Careers.
Ongoing career development can happen in different ways. ODPs may choose to develop higher levels of responsibility, knowledge and skills and progress through the career levels within the Perioperative Career Development Framework, for example, progressing to be a senior ODP or remain at the same level but build on existing experience, knowledge and skills.
ODP Career and at distance learning
Erika Marwick, NHS Orkney describes how remote learning has enabled her to achieve a health and social care diploma in her role as a health care support worker in theatre and subsequently a place on the Operating Department Practitioner programme.
ODP Career case study
Kelly Porteous, is an Operating Department Practitioner (ODP) and lecturer at the University of the West of Scotland (UWS). She describes the role of the ODP in anaesthetics, scrub and recovery. She goes on to discuss the Diploma of Higher Education in operating department practice.
Operating Department Practitioners can register with the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC).
They can also join the:
Other relevant professional bodies include the: