Working in theatres
From left: Saru, Jennifer, Nova and Mehnuhlik
Read our interviews to find out why working in theatres at Lewisham and Greenwich NHS Trust is so rewarding.
Saru Mahat, theatre support worker (band 2)
"I started working at University Hospital Lewisham in 2016. I didn’t have any experience in healthcare but I live locally to the hospital and I thought I’d apply. I did my training on the job. My role is to help get the theatre ready for the procedure – check the instruments, clean them, check the lighting. I am present during the operation, supporting the scrub nurse, and ensuring that the patients are safe.
"I really like working here as everyone is really friendly and supportive and it’s a multicultural environment. I feel very lucky to have this job and I never dread coming to work! Every day is different and when I get home I feel a sense of achievement. There is a good sense of camaraderie, people listen to what you say and we socialise outside of the hospital. It is a great place to work. You get very good training, good support, and good feedback."
Mehnuhlik Lynch, anaesthetic practitioner (band 5)
"It’s a brilliant job – no two days are ever the same, although it can be challenging at times. Teamwork is really important in theatres. We all rely upon one another. If one part doesn’t go smoothly, it affects everything else.
"I’m in the operating theatre from the beginning of the procedure to the end, so I work really closely with the anaesthetist. I help the anaesthetist prepare the patient’s anaesthetic and ensure the patient is safe during surgery. As University Hospital Lewisham is a teaching hospital, I get to work with lots of different people, which I like.
"There are lots of development opportunities at Lewisham and Greenwich NHS Trust – you can go down the managerial route, or you can progress on a clinical route and become a surgical first assistant, which means you operate alongside the surgeons. I’m thinking of doing an anaesthetic masters to become a surgical first assistant or a physician associate."
Nova Anonuevo, theatre practitioner (band 6)
"I’m team leader for the theatre practitioners – I make sure all the correct instruments are ready for the surgery and that everything is running smoothly. We have a morning huddle to discuss what we’ve got coming up that day and to make sure that everyone knows what they’ve got to do.
"I’m a qualified nurse and I came to the UK from the Philippines to work in a nursing home. In 2007, I applied to work at Lewisham and Greenwich NHS Trust as a band 5 scrub nurse.
"I live locally and I enjoy working in theatres – I get lots of support from my manager and I have lots of friends here. I learn something new every day. I move around the Trust’s 12 theatres so I see lots of different operations, including orthopaedics, gynaecology and urology. It can be stressful but it’s very satisfying. It’s flexible and I’m able to work a variety of shifts that fit in with my personal circumstances.
Jennifer Lewis, theatre practitioner (band 5)
"I’ve worked at University Hospital Lewisham for around 30 years. I started as a staff nurse on the wards, but six years ago my ward was closed down so I moved to theatres. I had to learn everything from scratch, so I had a mentor. My job is to help the surgeon, making sure everything is working, counting out swabs, checking that the correct instruments are available.
"My first operation was in orthopaedics and there were a lot of instruments – including drills! – so it was a bit daunting at first. Now I work in different theatres because I like a bit of everything. It’s quite different to the wards as the patients are mainly asleep, whereas on the wards you are talking to patients as well as dealing with relatives and sometimes social services. Sometimes the patients have a local anaesthetic, which means they are awake during the procedure. I collect the patients before their operation and I talk to them on the way down to theatre to put them at their ease.
"The best thing about the job is the variety and the people. I really like coming to work. I would definitely recommend it as a job."
Liz Thomson, theatres matron (band 8a)
"Working in theatres is really rewarding, especially when you see patients given a new lease of life and free from pain after their surgery. We always have a welcoming smile for patients coming in to surgery as we understand how nerve-wracking it can be.
"There’s a lot of innovation in this area, which makes it a fascinating place to work – for example, the development of keyhole surgery has made both the surgery and recovery time shorter, which is fantastic for patients.
"We’re a very close team – the nature of our jobs means that we trust and support one another. It’s a wonderful place to work, providing services to the local community, and we offer our staff all the training and support they need to give high quality care. There are lots of career development opportunities here, as well as flexible and part-time working."