Wrexham hospital theatre manager honoured for two decades’ service

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A theatre manager has been honoured for two decades of service at a top private hospital.

Diane Hall, who lives in Marford, Wrexham, trained as an Operating Department Practitioner (ODP) after her dreams of becoming a rookie cop were dashed at the age of 18.

Now theatre manager at the private Spire Yale Hospital in Wrexham, the mum-of-three says she could not imagine herself doing anything else after clocking up an impressive 21 years’ with her employers.

The 49-year-old, who has three sons’ aged 28, 22 and 15, has now received a special long service award in recognition of her dedication and commitment at a special luncheon hosted by Spire Healthcare in London.

“It was a wonderful experience and really made me feel valued, even though I don’t see myself or what I do as particularly special or out of the ordinary. It was a really nice way to celebrate,” she said.

“I wanted to be a policewoman originally but unfortunately didn’t get in. I went through all the entrance tests and applied but I think I was too naïve and young at the time.  I saw an opportunity for a trainee as an Operating Department Practitioner and applied. That’s where it all started.

“When I was working in the NHS I thought to myself that I’d like to be a theatre manager one day. That’s where I am now, at the top of where I can go within theatres. I’ve achieved my ambition and feel very pleased that I have.”

ODPs work across all stages of a patient’s perioperative care, including anaesthetics, surgery (commonly known as scrub) and recovery. They prepare a wide range of specialist equipment and drugs used during the perioperative phase of a patients care. Maintaining a sterile environment whilst  preparing instruments and equipment required during surgical intervention.

Diane, who was born in Wolverhampton, completed her initial ODP training at the Royal Shrewsbury Hospital and Selly Oak ODP training school. She worked in the NHS in operating theatres in Shrewsbury and Glan Clwyd Hospital in Bodelwyddan, Rhyl.

During her six years as an NHS ODP, Diane gained significant experience responding to critical theatre emergencies including patients who had been involved in road traffic accidents or those fatally wounded as a result of crime.

“I looked after some very ill patients undergoing emergency surgery when I worked for the NHS and unfortunately have experienced situations where we have lost patients,” she said.

“You are there to do your very best for the people you have in front of you, sometimes it is good news and other times it is not.

“It’s not an easy situation but you’re there because you want to help and make the situation better and you have to remember that. Giving your time for others is the only thing you can do. You have to keep a calm head.

“I’ve always had an interest in caring for patients. The theatre part is just my personal fascination with operations. It was always the surgery side of care that interested me most.”

After joining Spire Yale Hospital in 1998, Diane completed a Surgical First Assistant course which qualified her to assist surgeons during operations. Later, she completed an Advanced Life Support course which trained her to assist in the resuscitation of ill patients.

“At Spire, we only perform what we term cold surgery which is pre-planned, non-emergency cases but there are occasionally intense situations where someone may need to go back into surgery,” she said.

“I’m a manager now and don’t do quite so much clinical work but it’s nice to help a junior member of the team achieve their goals in life and I get a lot of pleasure out of that.

“I keep up my clinical skills and go in and scrub if I have a team member who wants support. I’ll also jump in and help the team if someone is off sick. It gives me a grounding and understanding of what’s going on in my department.

“I really do enjoy those days. I love the patient contact and I like making a difference to that person’s life. In the private sector, we have a lot more input into what we do for our patients and how we care. It’s a small hospital. You don’t always get that level of closeness in an NHS theatre department as you’re a long way from the ward. It’s great to have that rapport with the patients.”

Having already reached the top of her profession, Diane says her rewards these days come from watching her staff grow and develop.

“I really enjoy sharing my knowledge with my team. It’s very rewarding when you see someone else doing well,” she said

“Spire Yale is very good at providing training opportunities for staff. We have a good team around us. I’ve always got time to listen to my staff. I’m a counsellor most days!”

Hospital Director Sue Jones said: “Diane richly deserves this recognition for her two decades of fantastic service at Spire Yale.

“Policing’s loss was certainly our gain and she is a highly popular and respected member of the team, as well as being a wonderful role model.”