Theatre support worker
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.
Theatre support staff also have an important role in making sure patients, who may be anxious about going into the operating theatre, feel as calm and comfortable as possible.
As a member of the theatre support staff, you'll also:
- move patients on trolleys
- reassure family members
- prepare patients for anaesthetic
- set out instruments and equipment ready for surgery
- make sure the department has stocks of items needed
- clean and tidy theatre areas after surgery
- dispose of waste
Who will I work with?
You'll work with other members of the theatre team, including theatre nurses, anaesthetists, surgeons, operating department practitioners, and administrative staff. Your work will include some aspects of the role done by porters, operating department practitioners and theatre nurses.
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. Theatre support workers have 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.
Skills and personal characteristics
Theatre support workers need to be:
- willing to be in operating theatre areas during surgery
- calm and reassuring
- health and safety aware
- able to follow procedures
- part of a team but responsible for their own work
You'll also need:
- organisational skills
- communication skills
- good team working skills
Training and development
When you start as a theatre support worker you will be trained. Your training will include:
- health and safety
- infection control
- an introduction to the department and its systems and procedures
You will be encouraged to take relevant vocational qualifications. Apprenticeships in Perioperative Support at Intermediate, Advanced and Higher levels may be available.
Clinical support staff in the NHS are paid on the Agenda for Change (AfC) pay system. As a member of the theatre support staff, you will typically start on AfC 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.
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.
If you're applying for a role either directly in the NHS or in an organisation that provides NHS services, you'll be asked to show how you think the NHS values apply in your everyday work. Find out more about NHS values.
Most NHS trusts advertise their vacancies on NHS Jobs. Some of the current vacancies are below.
Find a vacancy
For further information about working in theatres, contact your local hospital or visit the NHS Jobs website to search for vacancies and view job descriptions.