Operating theatre managers are responsible for ensuring the successful running of the operating theatre environment.
But what does this actually involve? What does an operating theatre manager actually do?
In this post we’ll discuss some of the key responsibilities for operating theatre managers, while exploring ways managers can improve efficiency and care standards in their role.
Bear in mind: here we’re assessing an operating theatre manager’s general responsibilities. But for an idea of the specific challenges operating theatre managers may face today, be sure to read our guide to current issues in operating theatres.
What Are The Key Responsibilities for Operating Theatre Managers?
The operating theatre manager is responsible for most of the day-to-day operational issues within the operating department. They might be responsible for managing one department, or they might oversee operations across multiple sites.
Leadership, advice and communication
Operating theatre managers lead both medical and non-medical theatre staff. They provide professional leadership to the theatre teams, often providing professional and clinical advice regarding procedures and perioperative care, when necessary. At the same time, they’ll supervise all non-medical staff while promoting multidisciplinary teamwork and effective communication between team members at all levels.
Motivation and mentorship
A good operating theatre manager will focus on motivating and developing their team through providing mentorship, and through setting objectives and ensuring their delivery through personal development plans and appraisals.
Development and research
As well as developing their teams, the operating theatre manager will also work towards developing their departments. They might participate in research projects and research-based practice. They might also lead on the assessment, development and implementation of new evidence-based programmes for improved quality of care.
Budgeting, payroll and resource management
Finally, the operating theatre manager will supervise the administrative and logistical side of the operating theatre. This will involve overseeing the department’s budget and payroll, taking the lead on risk management and Health and Safety policies, and implementing resource management strategies. Operating theatre managers may also lead on developing effective infection prevention and control policies.
How Can Operating Theatre Managers Help Improve Quality and Efficiency in their Departments?
The NHS Productive Operating Theatre strategy recommends that operating theatre managers should commit to regular walk-arounds of the departments they oversee, as this can help them better understand the issues their frontline staff face each day.
Many operating theatre managers take such a hands-on approach. But it can be easy for some managers to lose sight of their department’s daily operations, particularly if they manage multiple sites.
Regular visits, along with regular discussions with staff, can help operating theatre managers get a reliable overview of their departments’ operational status. Areas of focus should include equipment availability and functionality, staff rotas, the number of cancellations and delays, and whether or not operating lists finish on schedule.
The NHS Productive Operating Theatre strategy also details how a well-organised theatre should run, with advice on improving patient preparation and turnaround. It also identifies seven key sources of waste in operating theatres. You can read our full guide to improving quality and efficiency in operating theatres here.
Investing in an Efficient Operating Theatre
Implementing resource management strategies is a key responsibility for an operating theatre manager. Operating theatre managers also oversee their department budgets, and a good manager will constantly seek ways they can invest their available funds to improve efficiency without compromising on quality of care.
The specific choice of equipment can make a huge difference to the department’s overall efficiency, but also to infection prevention and control – one of the major challenges operating theatre managers face in a post pandemic world.
This is one area where the smallest thing can make a significant difference. For example, high quality absorbent operating theatre floor mats can be simply picked up and discarded following procedures. This means that theatre teams will spend less time mopping between operations. So teams can significantly reduce the turnaround times between procedures while removing a major health and safety risk – slippery floors – all without compromising on hygiene standards.
At Cairn Technology, we specialise in helping operating theatre managers improve efficiency and care quality standards in their departments. Whether you want a consultation on effective infection control, or some advice on improving operational effectiveness in the theatre, our experts are here to help.