Day in the life of an Insourcing Theatre Nurse

Day in the life of an Insourcing Theatre Nurse

Theatre Nurses able to work at weekends now have exciting new career paths available to them as part of our new surgical insourcing services.

Insourcing roles offer you a great opportunity to boost your earnings and build your experience in a new and fast-growing area. Read on to hear from Di, a scrub nurse working within our insourcing teams, and learn exactly what the work entails.

How long have you been working on theatre insourcing projects?

"This is the first time I have done anything like this, I’ve never worked as an agency nurse before, but I started working on insourcing projects a few months ago and I’ve worked every weekend since, though sometimes I only work either the Saturday or the Sunday, not both."

Why did you choose to get involved in insourcing work?

"The main incentive for me was the extra pay but I am also trying to progress to band 6 so it’s a really good career pathway for me. I was also keen to learn more about what agency work is like and this has been a great taster. All the shifts I get are based in familiar surroundings - the hospital I work in full time, so I don’t have challenges like not knowing who to go to or how to use the systems."

What sort of hours does it involve?  

"On average I’d say my shifts are 10 hours, starting at 7.30am, usually finishing at 6pm. Sometimes the team finish early and sometimes later, but people work a lot more efficiently so leaving early is more common. I’m also paid £40 per hour for overtime beyond 6pm so I don’t mind that either."

Can you talk us through a typical day?

"Like a regular day, we start at about 7.30am and we set up the theatre and anaesthetic room. Tasks include making sure the list we have for the day’s procedures is all up to date, checking all staff are there and equipment and fluids are ready. We then wait for the Surgeon and Anaesthetist to come back from pre-assessing the patients, then double-check the list with them again and the first patient is called in.

Patients are always divided into morning and afternoon sessions, and the afternoon ones don’t arrive until 11am. Although that sometimes means the team have to stop and wait for the next set to be ready, it makes it easier on patients as the later ones don’t have to fast for as long. The team ethic is really great though, the pay incentives mean we work really efficiently."

Do you get sufficient breaks and are there any concerns about safety?

"Breaks are maintained as staff are rotated out so everyone gets one, however the time we take is sometimes shortened by team agreement. It is hardest for the Anaesthetics Assistant as there is often only one of them, but the system with patients staggered for morning and afternoon sessions forces a lunchtime break.

Safety is always paramount. Surgeons are more fortunate than theatre staff, because of the turnaround time for patients they get more time for breaks. Some Surgeons stay and help the rest of the team with mopping up as they want to get their cases done quickly too. Sometimes they also buy us coffees which is nice!"

What skills do you think are important for insourcing work?

"Flexibility and adaptability. During an average working weekday there is a bigger resource pool to draw from, we can draft in more help if we need it and borrow Theatre Support Workers from other teams. At the weekend we don’t have that luxury, so everyone needs to be more flexible and be prepared to perform other roles if necessary.

Teamworking is important too and good communication, especially with staff in day units so schedules run to plan. Staff there need to be kept updated so they can make sure the patient is changed and ready to collect."

Do you face any specific challenges as a result of working at weekends?

"Fitting my housework in! Making time for family is harder too but the pay compensates for both those. If you already work full time, working at weekends is the only option.

It is also quite challenging when we get last minute absences in our planned teams. At the moment this is typically because a team’s family member has tested positive for covid-19 so they can’t come in. In those cases we need to work alongside nurses who are less familiar with the plan and the team, but this is not just a challenge confined to insourcing projects, it happens on every ward at the moment."

What has your experience with Medacs been like? 

"So far very positive and I know that’s the same for the whole team. Some people had some payroll delays initially but that was down to paperwork hiccups and is now fixed. Not many people came forward for the insourcing project initially from within the Trust. Nurses were cautious and didn’t know how it would affect their tax codes. Now there are lots more signed up and Medacs are trying to be fair with work distribution, which is great, but we need a balance with skill mixes and new people need a lot more guidance which can slow us down. On the day we need the A team, not the B team.

Medacs being onsite every weekend to support us adds value too. We have someone physically there to go to if we have an issue and they are great at drafting in reserve staff at the last minute, and advising on paperwork or compliance docs. Personally, I really like the opportunity to ask questions about the plan. They’ve explained to me how the list is worked out and why certain cases are on there and others are not. The Medacs out of hours team are really helpful on the phone too."

What advice would you give to those considering surgical insourcing work?

"Do it! Especially if you have an opportunity to do it in the same hospital you normally work in. Everyone is so much happier knowing they will get paid for the weekend just done, the weekly pay really gives staff a boost. Small things like that are very important right now, everyone is so exhausted after covid and now we’re getting hammered with inflation too. Normally we would have to wait for our monthly pay to get extra for overtime but now it lands weekly and that really helps. The experience is great too."   

Interested in getting involved in insourcing?

If you are a theatre nurse and would like to join our insourcing teams, we currently have weekend work available in Yorkshire, the Midlands and East of England. Equally we can offer standard agency theatre shifts during the week in a nationwide range of locations, with enhanced rates. All our theatre nurses get support from our dedicated Theatre Booking Team and are encouraged to sign up for long lines of work.

For more information email or call us on 01785 256434.