The Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust

Celebrating our Operating Department Practitioners - Andrew Downs

14 May 2021

We are celebrating our nurses, midwives and operating department practitioners (ODPs) in a two-week long celebration during May that takes in the international recognition days for each profession. Today we're putting the spotlight on our Operating Department Practitioner's so it's over to Andrew Downs, ODP at David Beevers Day Unit, to tell us a bit about his role and profession.

Andrew DownsAndrew: Previous to my training as an ODP I had attended national music conservatoire and taught in schools for ten years, but I felt that a change was in order, and having also had a good scientific background, I was looking to a career in health. At that time, one of my friends was a key member of the Liver Transplant team and suggested I attended an open day, which I duly did. and within no time I had been interviewed and offered a training position (we weren't really called 'students' back then).

Twenty-three years later, I have done a circle around Leeds, spending time at Chapel Allerton Hospital, Seacroft Hospital, Leeds General Infirmary (where I appeared on One Born Every Minute) and have now returned to my ‘original hospital,’ St James’s, which I've often thought of as my 'home'.

I currently work in David Beevers Day Unit, which is a very busy place indeed, and as ODPs we were required to be both in and out of the department, providing a service to Endoscopy, Reproductive Medicine, CT, ECT, and Radiology, as well as all the specialities taking place on our 'home' area, including Post Anaesthetic Care.

The Leeds Hospitals have always been my preferred place of work even though there are opportunities to be had all around the region, but the range of specialities here and the dedicated, highly skilled and friendly teams make it a foregone conclusion - I simply wouldn't work anywhere else!

In my team of David Beevers I really enjoy and appreciate the variety of specialities I’m involved with and, indeed, every day is totally different, which keeps your mind and your skills fresh. As an ODP I feel that I'm a key member of the theatre team who can offer versatility and lots of transferable skills, which became hugely apparent and essential when the Covid pandemic hit in 2020.

Myself, along with many of my ODP colleagues, were drafted into the many ITUs in the Leeds hospitals, and our versatility, knowledge, transferable skills, and our sheer resilience as a profession helped to support the backbone of the ITU structure. I'm certain that despite the huge human tragedy that Covid brought about, it was eased in some way by the input of the ODP profession as a whole, and that the profession became more widely known and understood in a better way.

As an ODP who has worked in many areas over the past two decades I have always regarded myself and my profession as a whole to be a highly versatile, dynamic one, with a 'can do' ethos, and the year-long pandemic demonstrated just how that ethos translated itself into the life of the hospital.

To anyone considering a career in ODP, If you are looking for a profession that's highly varied, busy, with a versatile working environment at the 'cutting edge' of healthcare and the possibility of career progression that’s diverse and second to none, this is where you need to be!