Holiday healthcare heroes: 'I see patients undergoing life changing events and I play a small part in getting them through this'

PUBLISHED: 08:00 11 December 2017 | UPDATED: 08:45 11 December 2017

Chris Denson-Smith. Photo: NNUH

Chris Denson-Smith. Photo: NNUH


Throughout advent, we’re highlighting those who work hard throughout the year - and at Christmas - to keep Norfolk and Waveney’s health service ticking over.

This countdown of those we count on will focus on a different person or individual every day up until Christmas, celebrating our healthcare heroes.

Chris Denson-Smith, operating department practitioner on the critical care complex at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital

“Operating department practitioners (ODPs) are registered health care professionals who provide specialist skilled assistance in (and out of) operating theatre suites.

“A theatre ODP can work with an anaesthetist to anesthetise a patient and make sure that they are safe at all times during their procedure, be it a planned or emergency one. ODPs are also trained to work with surgeons at the operating table and can work in Recovery when patients wake up. Each of these stages requires a wide range of knowledge and specialist skills.

“I trained in the operating theatres at NNUH in the late 80s, and after 30 years I became one of the first ODPs to work in the N&N critical care complex (intensive care).

“As a member of the critical care department I now find myself using my skills and experience working with the consultants and doctors as part of the cardiac arrest and trauma teams. This is a very challenging and demanding role as no two situations are the same.

“Do I love my job? Yes very much. I see patients undergoing life changing events and I play a small part in getting them through this. Most patients who need my skills will not know I have been part of their care until they are getting better on our unit. It is wonderful to be able to talk to these patients and meeting their relatives is also a privilege and it serves as a constant reminder that we all have people who love us.

“I am just a small part of a dedicated team of professionals doing their jobs. I am proud to be able to work here, and as my mentor from all those years ago said ‘always do your best. Be professional and treat all the patients you see as if they are a loved one’.

“I couldn’t do my job on my own. I am only as good as the teams I am supported by. There are two of these: the team at work and the team at home. Wishing you all a Happy Christmas.”

• To read about other holiday health heroes, click on a door on the advent calendar above.

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