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  • Surgical Care Practitioner

Surgical Care Practitioner


As a Surgical Care Practitioner, your main responsibility is to support Surgeons before, during and after surgical procedures.

Work Activities

As a Surgical Care Practitioner, your main responsibility is to support Surgeons before, during and after surgical procedures.

You will also manage clinics and see patients before and after surgery. This involves assessing their welfare to ensure that they are fit for surgery. You will also prepare the patient by putting in catheters and venepunctures, ready for when the Surgeon arrives.

Surgical Care Practitioners also have the chance under direct supervision of a Surgeon to perform wound closure, vein harvesting and carpel tunnel surgery.

Once the patient is out of surgery, you will evaluate their condition and provide notes such as discharge papers and follow up care arrangements.

As a Surgical Care Practitioner, you will be involved in carrying out daily rounds of the wards. You will make patient assessments. This also includes prescribing medication, such as pain relief or anti-inflammatory drugs.

Being able to read, write and speak Welsh may be an advantage when you’re looking for work in Wales.

Personal Qualities and Skills

To become a Surgical Care Practitioner, you will need:

  • excellent attention to detail and the ability to prepare really well for operations
  • to react quickly, keep your concentration and be methodical
  • excellent problem-solving and communication skills
  • the ability to cope with distressing sights in the operating theatre and other areas, such as accident and emergency departments
  • an interest in science, technology and health
  • practical skills to work with small and delicate instruments
  • a friendly, supportive personality to reassure patients and prepare them for surgery

Pay and Opportunities


The pay rates below are approximate:

NHS employees are paid on a rising scale within defined pay bands, according to their skills and responsibilities. Surgical Care Practitioners are paid according to the Agenda for Change.

  • Band 6: £30,401 - £37,267
  • Band 7: £37,570 – £43,772

Hours of work

In the NHS, you will be working around 37.5 hours a week, which often includes shift work and working night, early starts, evenings and weekends.

Where could I work?

Surgical Care Practitioners may work in hospitals, clinics or health centres.

Where are vacancies advertised?

Vacancies are advertised on all the major job boards, on Find a Job, and at Jobcentre Plus.

NHS vacancies are advertised on the NHS Jobs Website for trainee and qualified positions.

Entry Routes and Training

Entry routes and training

To become an Surgical Care Practitioner, you usually need to complete a Diploma of Higher Education (DipHE) in operating department practice, leading to registration with the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC).

Courses usually take two years full-time to complete. Some part-time courses are available. The course is an equal mixture of academic and practical, clinical study. It includes hospital placements in specialist surgical areas.

Some universities now offer a BSc (Hons) degree in operating department practice. This also allows you to register with the HCPC.

A list of approved courses is available on the HCPC website.

An Advanced Level Apprenticeship is also a great place to start. Take a look at our information article 'Apprenticeships – How do I apply', for more details about applying for apprenticeship positions.

In this role you may be required to complete a care certificate before starting work. Take a look at our information article care certificate for more information.


You could enter a senior post, for example, running a theatre unit. It is also possible to move into different areas of the work, for example, transplants or special care baby units. Progression could also be into a research or teaching post.

Work Experience

Previous experience or qualifications in healthcare or nursing will help you get into this career.

Rehabilitation of Offenders Act

This career is an exception to the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974. This means that you must supply information to an employer about any spent or unspent convictions, cautions, reprimands or warnings, if they ask you to.

This is different from other careers, where you only have to reveal information on unspent convictions if you are asked to.


Entry requirements for the Diploma of Higher Education (DipHE) in operating department practice vary between the course providers.

The usual minimum entry requirements are 5 GCSEs (A*-C or 9-4) including English and maths (some universities also ask for science) and 2/3 A levels (biology might be specified).

Equivalent qualifications can be acceptable - please check university/college websites carefully. Also, some providers might accept candidates without the specified qualifications, for example, provided they have relevant skills and life experience.

To get onto an Advanced Level Apprenticeship, you'll usually need 5 GCSEs at grade C/4 or above, including English and maths, or to have completed an Intermediate Level Apprenticeship.

Some universities accept the Welsh Baccalaureate as equivalent to 1 A level.

Adult Opportunities

Age limits

It is illegal for any organisation to set age limits for entry to employment, education or training, unless they can show there is a real need to have these limits.


To get financial support from the NHS, you need to meet certain criteria. If you meet the criteria and are on an approved course (leading to registration with the Health and Care Professions Council), you'll get a grant of £1,000 for each year of the course. You can also apply for a means-tested bursary of up to £4,395 each year (or more in London). For more information, see the NHS Business Services Authority website.


  • 3% of people in occupations such as operating department practice work part-time.
  • 7% have flexible hours.
  • 3% of employees work on a temporary basis.

Further Information

Apprenticeships: Get In. Go Far

National Apprenticeship Service (NAS)

Tel: 0800 015 0400



NHS Wales Careers

Publisher: National Leadership and Innovation Agency for Healthcare



Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC)

Address: Park House, 184 Kennington Park Road, London SE11 4BU

Tel: 0845 3006184



NHS Business Services Authority


Careers Wales - Welsh Apprenticeships

Tel: 0800 028 4844


People Exchange Cymru (PEC)

Public sector recruitment portal for Wales



Croeso i Gyrfa Cymru

Dewiswch iaith


Welcome to Careers Wales

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