A day in the life of our theatre team

It’s a typical Wednesday and there are 3 lists scheduled for the day – pain procedures, cosmetic surgery and podiatric surgery. The theatre team arrives by 6.30am and between them, they prepare the theatre and procedure rooms with the required surgical and anaesthetic equipment for the day. The cosmetic surgeon arrives at 7.15am and the team are able to sit down with him for an informal brief of the operating list of patients and any special instructions. The first patient is welcomed and pre-assessed by the admitting nurse, then seen by the anaesthetist and surgeon and consented for surgery before being taken to the theatre suite. 

The team is always prepared for the unexpected and this morning there is a slight delay as the anaesthetist has been held up in traffic. The patient is advised and a nurse stays with them in the patient lounge until the list is ready to start.

At 9am the pain procedure consultant is ready to begin and each of the 3 procedures takes approximately 40 minutes. The patients spend a short while in the main recovery area and then transfer to the recovery lounge where they can relax in a recliner chair and have a beverage and sandwiches of their choice before they go home. At all times patients are accompanied by a nurse. 

With 2 lists running concurrently, teamwork and clear communication is essential between the theatre and outpatient nurses. Everyone is focussed on ensuring the patient experience is positive. 

There is a short period of respite between the morning and afternoon lists. The theatre team clean down the operating suite and prepare it again for the podiatric surgical list. All goes according to plan for the afternoon list. Then it’s time to catch up on paperwork and administration and ensure everything is ready for the following day’s lists. The team leaves the hospital at 5.30pm. 

Teamwork is absolutely critical when it comes to any operating theatre and communication is key. The team explains: “We have very good relations with all our consultants. There is strong mutual respect which has been built up over the years. We are in constant, direct contact with them checking and double checking to ensure everything runs smoothly on the day of surgery. We are a small, totally dedicated team here at The Chelmsford and this means we need highly skilled individuals who can multi task, are flexible and think on their feet. We love our jobs as we are so directly involved in every aspect of surgery and patient care.”

“The patients are our focus. We want to ensure they receive the best healthcare in the vicinity. They are never left unattended – a nurse or member of the theatre team is with them from the moment they arrive to the moment they are discharged. As all surgery is day-case, there is 

no need for lengthy stays away from home but all patients have access to a 24 hour emergency call number once they leave. Although the atmosphere in the theatre area can be intense and pressurised, we try to keep the happy banter going at all times. We are sometimes asked 

if we ever stop smiling! Keeping cheerful while under intense pressure is challenging but as far as we are concerned, that’s all part of the job. And we’d like to think it contributes to why patients have such a good experience here.”

Date: 30/04/2013
By: Nicola Douglas