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Q & A with Gary Primmer, Business Development Manager

An Operating Department Practitioner (ODP) is a vital part of the operating theatre team, who provide a high standard of care to patients at every stage of their operation.

ODP’s have a diverse role and are the link between the surgical team and other parts of the operating theatre and hospital. As key members of the team, ODP’s need to be able to react to difficult situations and have a close eye on the patient who is the number one priority.

If you are compassionate, dedicated, respectful and able to work in a multidisciplinary team, then keep reading.

An ODP role is very rewarding – you will be constantly appreciated by patients, their families and other team members. If you are looking for a position as an ODP or want to know more, read further about Gary’s experience and what he is doing to retain ODP’s and obtain the right fit for the job.

Thank you for taking the time to Q&A with us! Tell us a little bit about yourself:

I am a senior ODP with over 20 years’ experience. I trained in the Royal Navy and have worked all over the world in a variety of challenging situations including an operational tour of Afghanistan in 2008. I have worked within the NHS and private sectors as an ODP and team leader before signing up with several agencies as a locum.

Why move into agency?

Being ex-military and having worked in NHS, private, full time and part time specializing in anaesthetics and recovery, I have worked as both a band 5 and team leader role. Agency offers the freedom to work suiting to my needs with work and home life, childcare, and financially I am better off.

Why move from agency into recruiting?

The need to have a specialist in this role, who recognizes and understands the needs of the theatre practitioner and theatre manager to ensure the right role is filled. I do miss working and looking after a team but recruiting offers great opportunity.

What do you feel you can bring to this role?

With my knowledge and experience, I can fit a theatre practitioner into a specific role, ensuring the skill set is right for the job advert. Overall, this will ensure patient safety, ease the stress of both sides and is cost effective.

Coming from a clinical background I can recognize the needs of both the ODP and theatre manager. By identifying what kit the hospitals use (anaesthetic machines, blood retrieval systems, fluid management systems and surgical sets) I can ensure the TP is fully ready to work in that hospital.

Having been through the process I am best placed to guide the worker through the compliance phase and offer advice in any aspect of the role.

Why is experience and/or equipment so crucial?

Each ODP going to work in any specific area should be competent and comfortable working in that area, be it anaesthetics, scrub or recovery. As a locum ODP it is imperative that you are safe to work in that area and in turn improve the efficiency and cost effectiveness of the hospital by not doubling up on staff, short notice changes to staffing or risking an adverse event.

Why is the industry so demanding? Why do you think there is a shortage?

The NHS has been under immense pressure over recent years, compounded by the pandemic. Long hours, poor pay and lack of recognition has left the industry haemorrhaging staff and leaving a hole that’s needs filling.

What can be done to retain ODP’s or get them on board?

It’s going to be very tough to retain the staff within the NHS. Even with an adequate recruiting campaign, it will take many months to fill these shifts. Agencies such as Cromwell offer a great way to get quality, well-motivated staff to ensure lists aren’t cancelled.

Cromwell offers a flexibility that will really appeal to a lot of workers, combined with great rates of pay, working hours to suit the individuals and their home life.

What do you plan on doing to obtain the right fit for the job?

When applying for the five agencies two things were important to me - How efficient was the process and what was the communication like? Did I feel wanted? I knew the work is out there, so I wanted an agency that felt like they could represent me. Too many agencies that I signed up for and eventually worked for felt like I was dealing with a used car salesperson, that they just wanted bums on seats with no real investment into that person. As an ODP, still working clinically, I feel I know what the ODP wants and how best to represent them. Talking their language and understanding their needs, I truly feel I have something to offer my peers.

Moving forward

Growing a professional well motivated team, able to cover positions all over the country on long- and short-term basis, ensuring both the TP and OT manager get the shift covered safely and with little disruption to the hospital routine and both parties.


If you want to be part of a team that really makes a difference to people’s lives, then caring for patients when they are at their most vulnerable during an operation could be for you.

Scan through the current ODP roles that we have available and reach out to our sales team for further enquiries. Or refer an ODP and receive £200 as a reward once the qualifying criteria has been met.