What is a theatre manager?

As a theatre manager at the National Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery (NHNN), I provide strong leadership within theatres including anaesthetics, scrub and recovery. My role is to support and empower the staff who work in our theatres so they can provide excellent care to our patients. This includes managing staffing resource, pay and non-pay budget, while providing a safe clinical and physical environment. I also develop and maintain safe and ethical operating practices within the hospital, identifying service improvement opportunities, managing competing business needs, and facilitating improvements within the theatre team and across departments.

What does your job involve day to day?

I work 8am–6pm, four days a week. My usual day begins with checking EPIC (our electronic patient records system), the activity overnight, looking at the list for the day and making sure we have safe staffing levels for the scheduled cases to be able to deliver the best possible care to patients. All this means I need to be a good troubleshooter. Like most people, I have a lot of meetings!

How did you become a theatre manager?

I have been a nurse for many years and have worked at various levels. I joined the NHNN in 2006 as a band 5 nurse in recovery and worked my way up to band 7 recovery lead before becoming theatre manager. I have learned so much in my present role and I’m extremely grateful for the overwhelming support at UCLH, especially from my colleagues and senior managers. That has made all the difference in helping me grow into a new role.

Best part of the job?

Being a theatre manager is not an easy job, and you find yourself with lots of things to deal with constantly. But I enjoy the fact that no two days are ever the same – things can all change from one moment to the next. You have to be adaptable and do whatever it takes to support the team. This has been especially important and challenging during the pandemic. It makes me happy knowing we’ve worked together to deliver a high standard of care to our patients. It is an extremely rewarding career – I finish my shift knowing I have contributed to helping our patients receive excellent care.

What skills do you need?

You need to have good leadership, and a strong understanding of the different levels of management. You also need to understand the value of a multi-disciplinary approach and the need for compromise and adaptability. A good theatre manager is able to take on a challenge and explore new concepts and technologies to improve efficiency. I also need to be a role model and make sure I uphold the UCLH values – safety, kindness, teamwork and improving – in everything I do.