It starts with you, Clinical & Medical, Nursing

Celebrating Operating Department Practitioner Day 2024

To celebrate ODP Day, we caught up with Kate Stables, Operating Department Practitioner at Nuffield Health Plymouth Hospital to ask her what the day means to her.

Kate also recently was awarded a leadership scholarship with the Florence Nightingale Foundation for her sustainable healthcare project after taking part in the Green Healthcare Leadership Programme.

What does an Operating Department Practitioner (ODP) do?
An ODP provides a high level of care for patients within the operating theatre during the three phases of the perioperative journey, these are anaesthetics, surgery and recovery. I work as an anaesthetic ODP, which means I provide support to the anaesthetist during a general anaesthetic.

The anaesthetic ODP must have a good knowledge of airway management and pharmaceuticals. We are also responsible for checking and maintaining specialised equipment such as the anaesthetic machine. Being an ODP is a varied role and every day in the theatre department is different and provides new challenges and experiences.

What is your career path? How did you end up working at NH Plymouth?
I qualified as an ODP 10 years ago while in the Army, during this time I trained and worked at the Royal Centre for Defence Medicine at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham and The Queen Alexandra Hospital in Portsmouth. Upon leaving the military, I moved to Plymouth with my now husband and started working at University Hospitals Plymouth, specialising in anaesthetics.
I worked at UHP for 8 years, working in specialities such as Emergency theatres, emergency neuro, trauma and stroke services. However, the most challenging time was during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

In September 2022 I made the move to Nuffield Health Plymouth, I decided to leave the NHS and move to a smaller hospital for personal reasons, one of which was a better work/life balance, which Nuffield Health gives me. 

Also, whilst working in Nuffield Health, you're not exposed to the many trauma patients that come through the NHS hospitals, and switching off at the end of the working day is considerably easier and better for my mental health.

What do you enjoy about working for Nuffield Health?
At Nuffield Health, I enjoy working in a smaller team, and I love my colleagues at Nuffield Plymouth. It's great to be a part of such a wonderful team. 

Nuffield has also supported me with my passion for sustainable healthcare and has given me the space and time I have needed to complete my Green Healthcare Leadership course with the Florence Nightingale Foundation

Can you explain more about your project for the Green Healthcare Leadership Programme and how your hospital team colleagues have been supportive?
For the Green Healthcare Leadership Programme, the group had to implement a quality improvement project that aids sustainable healthcare. My project was in regard to the amount of single use plastics within the theatre department. During anaesthesia, we use a piece of equipment called a laryngoscope handle, this is a single use plastic and contains three small button cell batteries, once it has been used it is put into clinical waste. 

For my project, we moved to a reusable handle which is made from metal and is cleaned after each use. It also contains two standard batteries that are recycled once they come to the end of their life. By doing this we have reduced our carbon footprint, reduced our clinical waste and saved money. 

One of the reasons this project has gone so well at my hospital is due to the support of my colleagues, especially the other anaesthetic ODPs and the anaesthetists, who this project affects most.

What are your ambitions for your project?
My project has gone very well at Plymouth Nuffield Health, and I am hoping that we can implement this nationally to all other Nuffield Health Hospitals across the UK. It would also be a great achievement if I could get some NHS hospitals on board too. 

But more than anything, I hope that more discussions are had regarding sustainable healthcare and more people like me feel empowered to make a change within their department.

Are you looking forward to your Scholarship with the Florence Nightingale Foundation?
I am very excited to start my scholarship with the Florence Nightingale Foundation. I am looking forward to meeting new people and gaining new experiences. 

I think this scholarship will be a new and very exciting challenge for me and I can't wait to push myself and see what I achieve.

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