Theatre Support Worker

Theatre Support Workers play an important role in the operating department team, transporting patients between the wards and the operating theatre. They help to reassure patients who may be concerned or anxious about the operation they are about to have.

They also support the surgical team, during and after operations, to ensure the patient receives the best level of care possible. The surgical team includes Scrub Practitioners, Operating Department Practitioners, Surgeons, Theatre Nurses and Anaesthetists.

As a Theatre Support Worker, many of the patients you meet may be anxious or very ill. You would reassure the patient and keeping them as safe and comfortable as possible. Prior to the operation or procedure, you would ensure the surgical team is aware of problems and concerns you were unable to answer.

Your main duties would include:

  • collecting patients from the ward and transporting them to the operating theatre
  • talking with and reassuring patients
  • counting and documenting surgical instruments used in theatre during an operation
  • ensuring that surgical instruments and equipment are properly prepared prior to the operation
  • helping with the collection of specimens
  • cleaning the operating theatre before, between and after operations, adhering to hygiene and infection control protocols
  • clinical waste disposal

Useful skills include:

  • patience and empathy
  • a caring, helpful and friendly personality
  • strong communication skills
  • teamworking skills
  • good level of physical fitness
  • excellent housekeeping skills and adherence to hygiene and infection control protocols

 Useful abilities include:

  • the ability to relate to people of all ages, lifestyles and backgrounds
  • the ability to motivate people
  • the ability to reassure patients and help answer any questions they may have
  • the ability to keep your knowledge and skills up to date

To apply for a job as a Theatre Support Worker, you are likely to need a good standard of general education, including English and Maths. Previous voluntary or paid work experience in a healthcare setting would be an advantage.

The specific entry requirements will depend of the Agenda for Change (AfC) band (2, 3 or 4) for the job. The qualifications asked for may also vary, depending on the recruiting NHSScotland board. You are advised to contact each individual board to find out its specific requirements.

You may also require or be encouraged to work towards an SVQ Healthcare Support (Clinical) at SCQF Level 6 and SCQF Level 7 qualification. Find out more about qualifications for healthcare support workers on the SQA website.

Protecting Vulnerable Groups (PVG) scheme

When applying to become a Theatre Support Worker, you’ll need evidence of your good health and character, and background checks, such as the Protecting Vulnerable Groups (PVG) managed by Disclosure Scotland.

Modern Apprenticeships offer those aged over 16 paid employment with the opportunity to train for jobs at craft, technician and management level.

The Modern Apprenticeship in Healthcare Support (clinical) at SCQF Level 6 and SCQF Level 7 is a framework for people interested in working in a clinical healthcare setting.

For more information about this Modern Apprenticeship framework, look at:

Contact your local NHSScotland board to find out if this Modern Apprenticeship is available in your area.

Working in healthcare brings additional responsibilities therefore your learning journey will start with the HCSW Mandatory Induction Standards.  These Induction Standards are designed to protect the public by ensuring all new staff in NHSScotland understand their role and responsibilities in relation to;

  • Protecting patients and the public
  • Health, safety and security
  • Working with people
  • Working and developing in your role

Once you have completed the Mandatory Induction Standards workbook, you will continue to demonstrate that you are working to the HCSW Code of Conduct.

During your career, you may have the opportunity to study for qualifications, such as an SQA SVQ Level 2 or 3 Healthcare Support (Clinical). Find out more about these qualifications on the VQ Finder website.

This role could lead to a job as a senior theatre support worker, supervising a team of Theatre Support Workers. With experience and training, you could gain the qualifications needed to study at university for a career as a Theatre Nurse or Operating Department Practitioner.