THE University of Bolton is helping to tackle the national crisis facing health care.

It has become the first to offer a degree apprenticeship to train the next generation of clinicians working in the operating theatre.

The new Operating Department Practitioner (ODP) Integrated Degree Apprenticeship was launched earlier this year and provides students — some of who are already working in hospitals — on the job training.

There is a shortage of ODPs and students work in various hospitals across the region — Bolton, Liverpool, Manchester, Wigan and Bradford — for four days a week and spend a day a week at university.

ODPs are registered professionals working mainly in hospital operating departments.

The programme helps them to develop the specialist skills and knowledge needed in the operating theatre as anaesthetics, surgery or recovery to ensure patients facing surgery get the best possible care.

Heather Darwen, Associate Lecturer in Operating Department Practice at the University of Bolton, said: “This is an exciting new course.

“It ensures that after three years, the ODPs hit the ground running and are learning all the essential skills and knowledge, whilst working in the real world.

“ODP students enjoy this practical-heavy model of education, gaining theoretical knowledge and practising simulation in a safe classroom environment.

"They are then able to make use of what they have learned, under supervision, at work.”

One apprentice said: “I am excited, nervous and anxious at starting this new adventure studying at the University of Bolton and changing from my current role in theatres to being a student Operating Department Practitioner.”

Successful students will graduated with a BSc (Hons) in Operating Department Practice.

The ODP apprenticeship is said to be another landmark in the timeline of the Allied Health Professional’s development and on-going commitment to patient care in the operating theatre. The university is now recruiting for September.