Published on 19 May 2021
“If I can do it, anyone can!”
That’s the message from senior Operating Department Practitioner (ODP) Sally Csuka, who worked her way up after joining East Kent Hospitals as a Band 2 theatre support worker in 2005.
Now working as part of the gynae and obstetrics team she is following in the footsteps of her mum Christine Blythe, who was a senior nurse in the theatres department.
Sally said: “When I was 19 my mum suggested I apply to be a theatre support worker and see if I liked it.
“I soon discovered I loved being in the theatre environment and I really wanted to progress.”
Sally was accepted onto the diploma course – now replaced with a degree course – and qualified in 2010.
As an ODP, Sally works in anaesthetics, in the operating theatre, and in the recovery room, helping to provide the best care for patients.
She said: “I enjoy all of it, but particularly the patient care side. They are very vulnerable when they come to us, and often very scared about whatever procedure they are about to have.
“We are the faces they see and we can reassure them and care for them and make them feel safe.
“It’s a very specialised role technically but patient care is at its heart.”
ODPs’ skills around airway management and ventilation were in demand during the Covid-19 pandemic, and many – including Sally – were redeployed to work in critical care areas.
She said: “It was hard. We saw first-hand the worst effects of the virus, how it affected people, and how sick they became. Sadly, there were a lot who died.
“But it was lovely to know our skills as ODPs were making a difference and we could help where it was needed most.”
As well as graduates, the Trust also employs ODP apprentices, who complete a four-year training course.
Sally said: “It is a relatively unknown role but it is so rewarding. I encourage all the theatre support workers to consider it. If I can come in as a Band 2 and work my way up to a Band 6 then anyone can do it.
“If you have a passion for theatres, ODP is definitely the role for you.”