Theatre support workers are the glue keeping the surgical team together. They make sure each member of the team is able to do their job effectively.
Training and qualifications required
There are no set entry requirements. Employers expect a good standard of numeracy and literacy and may ask for GCSEs (or equivalent) in English and maths and may well ask for experience of healthcare. Most have worked in the NHS in another healthcare role such as healthcare assistant or other clinical support role. You could gain experience of healthcare by securing a healthcare-related apprenticeship, and then applying for a permanent position as a healthcare assistant or other clinical support role. When you start as a theatre support worker you will be trained. Your training will include health and safety, infection control and an introduction to the department and its systems and procedures. You will be encouraged to take relevant vocational qualifications. Apprenticeships in Health - Perioperative Support (Intermediate, Advanced and Higher levels) may be available.
Expected working hours and salary range
As a member of the theatre support staff in the NHS, you will typically start on Agenda for Change band 2 or 3. With further training and experience, you could apply for more senior positions at band 4. Theatre support staff work standard hours of around 37.5 a week. Some may work shifts including early starts, evenings and weekends. Terms and conditions will usually be different for clinical support staff working outside of the NHS.
Desirable skills and values
As a theatre support worker, you'll need to be willing to be in operating theatre areas during surgery, calm and reassuring, health and safety aware, able to follow procedures, be part of a team but responsible for your own work. You'll also need good organisational, communication and team working skills.
With experience, a theatre support worker can become a senior theatre support worker, supervising the work of a team. Theatre support workers can apply for other roles in the wider healthcare team such as healthcare assistant. With the qualifications necessary for university study, they can also apply to train as a theatre nurse, operating department practitioner or other healthcare professional.