Behind the Scenes: General and Emergency Theatres
Have you ever wondered how a busy acute hospital operates?
Although some of our staff may be less visible than others, they are all playing a vital role in the care we provide to our local communities.This includes the people who are working tirelessly behind the scenes to provide a 24-hour service in General and Emergency Theatres at Arrowe Park Hospital.
Immediately upon arriving at the department at 8.15am, it was obvious that this is an extremely busy area of the hospital. Some of the team had gone home after finishing a long night shift and several were already in theatre providing life-saving treatment to an emergency patient. At the same time, other colleagues were purposefully setting up for the day ahead. Everyone was focused yet there was a calm and welcoming atmosphere along the corridors. Immediately, it was clear that this was a very efficient team of people who like working together and also enjoy their jobs.
With around 30 staff, the General and Emergency Theatres Department works alongside the Trust's consultants on planned upper gastro-intestinal and colorectal surgeries as well as all emergency surgery.
Theatre Co-ordinator, Sujatha Samuel (pictured in dark blue) explained: “Our team includes trained nurses, ODPs (Operating Department Practitioners) and Clinical Support Workers who all contribute a wealth of different experience and academic knowledge.
"The procedures performed in our theatres can be very complex and we are fortunate to have very good working relationships with our consultants. There is no divide and we very much consider ourselves as one big team.
“Theatre is all about team work and I am proud to manage a very motivated bunch of people who take real ownership of what they do. We have three theatres; two for elective surgery and another for emergencies. Some of the patients we see are extremely poorly and we are able to open up an additional theatre very quickly if an emergency comes in. In those cases, we never know what’s coming through the door and that is when team work really comes into play. It is humbling to witness how everyone pulls together on these occasions.
“A recent national audit for emergency laparotomies (which is an operation for a sudden or serious medical problem in the abdomen) revealed that we undertake the highest number of these operations in the North West. Our patient outcomes are excellent with very few people requiring intensive care following the procedure. We have a strong reputation and peers in other Trusts have often commented on how good it is to work in our theatres, which makes me really proud.
“Many members of the team have worked at Wirral University Teaching Hospital for a long time and we have a very low staff turnover. We are all passionate about supporting new members of staff and we work hard to lay strong foundations for the many students that we have because they are the future of our Trust.
“We are very flexible and open to change, which is particularly important as complex procedures can sometimes take longer than expected. Whatever we do, at the end of it is a patient that is relying on us so people are always willing to go the extra mile when needed. We are constantly on the go caring for our patients but we make sure that we look after each other as well. It’s important to be happy in work so that we can do the very best job possible.”
Sujatha is immensely proud of her team and when she talks, her passion for the job and appreciation of her colleagues is inspiring.
She added: “I started at the hospital in September 2002 and have had so much support throughout my time here. This is like home for me; I couldn’t imagine being a co-ordinator of any other team and feel very lucky to have such a happy and dedicated work family.”