letters :

Merging the nursing team with operating department practitioners is becoming the norm as the ODP's worth, skills and knowledge are better recognised. The ODP has evolved into a peri-operative practitioner capable of autonomous practice in all peri-operative skills.

Leona Condliffe shows a lack of understanding that ODPs have for some time been involved in 'the maintenance and restoration of the physical and psychological status of the surgical patient at all levels of dependency through the assessment, planning and delivery of individualised care', to quote their professional body.

Patient care planning and delivery, and the other aspects of the holistic peri-operative approach to the overall role of the ODP, have been recognised for some time. A diploma in higher education has been created, and in April the government advised employers not to employ ODPs not on the register of the professional body - a precursor to statutory registration.

A sound relationship exists between the National Association of Theatre Nurses and the Association of Operating Department Practitioners.

In most theatres, respect and joint recognition of both staff groups exists for the overall good of the surgical patient. In many instances ODPs are taking senior positions as clinical managers and team leaders which were once the domain of the nurse.

The ODP profession has evolved from the old operating department assistant which, historically, did practise ostensibly with the anaesthetist. Those days are long gone and as the title implies, the ODP is now a practitioner in all areas of theatre practice.

Instead of promoting the nurse as the only person who can carry out specific tasks in the theatre, it would be more constructive to promote the skills and knowledge of all professionals who work for patients in the operating theatre - then the public might become more aware that there are others who care for them equally well.

Steve Moutrey Training manager Portsmouth Hospitals trust