I was interested to read about the theatres unit at Nottingham City Hospital, and its innovative approach to staff retention ('Waste not, want not', pages 24-27, 31 May). Merging the nursing team with the operating department practitioners (ODPs) has benefited the problem of high staff turnover.

But I did feel concerned about the loss of an identifiable nursing team within the theatre.

Their presence satisfies the important issue of patient advocacy. This is not only a fundamental aspect of nurse training, but an integral part of nursing culture. It is a responsibility of nurses heightened by the familiarity the public feels towards them.

People are often comforted by the presence of a nurse, particularly in theatres, where patients often feel anxious and uncertain. The role of the nurse is one with which people are familiar and the value of this cannot be underestimated.

Most people would not know what a health professional with the title of ODP represented. As nursing has developed over the last 20 years, the technical element has increased. However, the art of nursing lives on, and training is still focused on assisting the patient. ODPs are trained to assist the anaesthetist.

These roles cannot be considered as the same thing.

Leona Condliffe Health promotion adviser West London