Theatre support worker

Theatre support workers play an important role in the operating department team, who look after people before, during and after operations. They support people as they are preparing to go into theatre and help to move them back to recovery following their procedure.

Starting your career

Choosing subjects at school

To become a theatre support worker, you need a good standard of education. There are no entry requirements, but useful subjects include:

  • English
  • Maths

Work placements and volunteering

You may find it helpful to get some experience of working in healthcare by doing a work placement. There may also be opportunities to volunteer. This could help you when applying to university, college or a new job with NHSScotland.


Foundation Apprenticeships

A Foundation Apprenticeship could give you the skills, knowledge and work experience you need to start your career journey as a theatre support worker.

Learn more about the Foundation Apprenticeship in Social Services and Healthcare.

Modern Apprenticeships 

Begin or continue learning the skills, knowledge and work experience you need to become a theatre support worker with a Modern Apprenticeship.

Find out about the Modern Apprenticeship in Healthcare Support.

All Healthcare Support modern apprentices study the three mandatory units of communication, health and safety, and learning development. For theatre support worker, you will then choose your remaining units from the clinical pathway options.

The role

Theatre support workers look after people before, during and after operations and work as part of a multidisciplinary team. They transport patients between wards and the operating theatre and help keep patients calm while waiting to go in for surgery. Theatre support workers also have an important role in making sure patients, who may be anxious about going into the operating theatre, feel as calm and comfortable as possible.

What you’ll do

Your main tasks include:

  • reassure family members and patients
  • move patients on trolleys
  • prepare patients for anaesthetic
  • set out instruments and equipment ready for surgery
  • make sure the department has stocks of items needed
  • clean and tidy theatre areas after surgery

Top skills

You’ll need these skills:

  • communication
  • organisation
  • teamwork
  • health and safety awareness

Who you'll work with

You could work with other members of the theatre team, including

  • theatre nurses
  • anaesthetists
  • surgeons
  • operating department practitioners
  • administrative staff

Working environment

You will work in hospital wards and operating theatres.

Useful information

To work as a theatres support worker in NHSScotland, you’ll need to:

Learning and development

When joining the NHS, you will work through the Mandatory Induction Standards. These standards are designed to help you work safely and must be completed within the first 3 months of employment. They will also support you in your first steps as a new healthcare support worker.

Your development will be reviewed every year with your manager, through Personal Development Planning.

Getting experience as a healthcare support worker can be very helpful if you decide you want to go to university to study to become a registered nurse.

Existing staff can complete an HNC Healthcare Practice to gain entry onto the degree route.

The Open University route is available to healthcare support workers who want to become registered nurses. No formal qualifications are required, but you must remain employed in your existing post while studying.

Find out about nursing and healthcare practice courses on the Open University website.

Learn more about becoming a healthcare support worker from NHS Education for Scotland's Healthcare Support Worker Careers Guidance leaflet