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DipHE Operating Department Practice

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As well as being accredited by the Health & Care Professions Council (HCPC), this two-year ODP diploma has also scored exceptionally high student satisfaction rates (100%) and boasts 100% graduate employment.

Operating Department Practitioners (ODPs) are an instrumentally vital part of the perioperative team and are responsible for delivering safe, high-quality care to surgical patients during anaesthesia, surgery and post anaesthesia (recovery).

Taught by actively practising lecturers, in state-of-the-art facilities, you’ll have plenty of opportunities to put your learning into practice – working in clinical settings supervised by registered healthcare professionals during multiple work placements that make up approximately 60% of your time on the course.

As well as the expert knowledge and skillset you’ll acquire, you’ll also gain numerous transferable skills, such as leadership, problem-solving, team work and communication – all essential for a career in an NHS or private sector operating department. 

All statistics shown are taken from Unistats, Destination of Leavers from Higher Education (DLHE), BU institutional data and Ipsos MORI (National Student Survey) unless otherwise stated.

Key information

Next start date:

September 2018


Bournemouth University, Lansdowne Campus


2 years, including mandatory placements


Health & Care Professions Council (HCPC)

Entry requirements:

For 2018 entry: 96 - 104 tariff points including a minimum of 2 A levels or equivalent. BTEC Extended Diploma of MMM. For more information check out our 2018 entry requirements page

International entry requirements:

If English is not your first language you'll need IELTS (Academic) 7.0 with minimum 6.5 in each of the 4 components or equivalent.

For more information check out our international entry requirements page

Course details

During the ODP course you will acquire suitable clinical skills, experience and knowledge to empower you to become an effective practitioner who can deliver high-quality and appropriate care. Throughout the course you will receive a theoretical introduction to an area through seminars, lectures, group work/projects, presentations, practice simulation in skills labs, reading and online tests. 

You can view information on our facilities and take a 360 tour of our simulation suites here.

On this course you will usually be taught by a range of staff with relevant expertise and knowledge appropriate to the content of the unit. This will include senior academic staff, qualified professional practitioners, demonstrators and technicians. 

Year 1

Core units

  • Fundamental Communication Skills: In this unit you’ll learn to develop communications skills and explore group process in both professional and partnership settings.
  • Foundations in Anaesthetic Care: You’ll discover how to care for the patient before, during and after anaesthesia, understand the role of the anaesthetic assistant.
  • Foundations in Surgical Care: You’ll discover the basics of circulating and scrubbing for surgical cases as well as gloving & gowning, surgical instrumentation and patient positioning.
  • Foundations in Postanaesthetic Care: You’ll learn the role of the postanaesthetic practitioner, airway management, equipment and preparation, pain assessment and management, and pharmacology.
  • Foundations in Perioperative Practice: You will be taught a range of subjects to prepare for clinical practice. You’ll enjoy a variety of clinical experiences; facilitated, supported and assessed by registered practitioners.

 Year 2

Core units

  • Exploring Evidence to Guide Professional Practice: During this unit aims you’ll be required to demonstrate an understanding of how different forms of evidence can effectively guide practice.
  • Care in Anaesthesia: This module will teach you pathophysiology, invasive monitoring, pharmacology, physiological interpretation and advanced pain management. Clinical skills include a refresh of anaesthetic machine & monitoring preparation, invasive monitoring and specialist airway management.
  • Care in Surgery: In this unit you’ll explore the practice of intra-operative care and gain insight and understanding of your individual responsibility in the co-ordination of safe and competent care.
  • Care in Postanaesthesia: Here you’ll explore the continuing care of the postanaesthesia patient and gain insight and understanding of the autonomous role of the post anaesthesia practitioner. Clinical skills will include recognising the deteriorating patient.
  • Developing Perioperative Practice: You're taught a range of subjects, including understanding of human factors, service improvement, humanisation, safety to enable you to work in groups on a real perioperative project that may have impact on practice.

Scheduled learning and teaching activities

Contact hours

Throughout the course, 60% of your time will be spent on placement. This means that your study time at BU will be split between scheduled learning and teaching activities and guided independent learning, such as preparing for and writing up coursework assignments.

Year 1 – 16% of your time will be spent in timetabled learning & teaching activities

  • Learning and teaching: 169 hours
  • Independent learning: 481 hours
  • Non-assessed learning and teaching: 27 hours
  • Placement hours: 937 hours

Year 2 – 12% of your time will be spent in timetabled learning & teaching activities

  • Learning and teaching: 136 hours
  • Independent learning: 514 hours
  • Non-assessed learning and teaching: 12 hours
  • Placement hours: 1112 hours

How you will be assessed

You will be assessed by coursework culminating in your final year research project, and you will also undertake group work and written exams. The assessment methods for each unit can be found on the programme profile in the programme specification for your course. As an indication, 50% of the most popular units on this course in 2016/17 were assessed by coursework.

Programme specification

Programme specifications provide definitive records of the University's taught degrees in line with Quality Assurance Agency requirements. Every taught course leading to a BU Award has a programme specification which describes its aims, structure, content and learning outcomes, plus the teaching, learning and assessment methods used.

Download the programme specification for DipHE Operating Department Practice.

Whilst every effort is made to ensure the accuracy of the programme specification, the information is liable to change to take advantage of exciting new approaches to teaching and learning as well as developments in industry. If you have been unable to locate the programme specification for the course you are interested in, it will be available as soon as the latest version is ready. Alternatively please contact us for assistance.

All statistics shown are taken from Unistats, Destination of Leavers from Higher Education (DLHE), BU institutional data and Ipsos MORI (National Student Survey) unless otherwise stated.

Placement opportunities

An important feature of the course is the hospital that you will be based at. If you are successfully short listed then the Admissions Team will contact you to ask what location you would consider. Some placement areas are more popular than others due to geographical location and as placement numbers are limited you maybe offered a place but at a different location to your preference.

All of our linked hospitals provide a high standard of care and are committed to the teaching and assessment of the future workforce. There are a number of additional expectations that must be accepted when starting the course. During your clinical placement there may be times when you are expected to work during the evening or at weekends, so that you are working with your Mentor. Advance notice will be given.

When on placement you will experience the full 24 hour shift pattern to include 12-13 hour shifts, weekends and night shifts. You will also undertake some surgical ward experience within the first two weeks of placement in your first year of study.

"Placements prepare you for the workplace and it’s interesting to see all of the things you learn in your university blocks come to life when you are on your work placement.”

Jessica Alcock, Diploma of Higher Education Operating Department Practice, placement at Poole Hospital, 2016 - watch Jessica's video case study

Most of your clinical experience will be based in one hospital. In order to achieve the minimum number of required clinical experiences expected for the course, there may be some placements based in other hospitals. Again advanced notice will be given. ODP is a very practical role and thus the majority of learning is undertaken at ‘base’ hospitals. Bournemouth University is affiliated with the following hospitals:




South Wiltshire

At least half of your time, over the two years, is spent at your 'base' hospital.

Placements and travel costs

Your learning will be based at our Lansdowne Campus, while clinical placements will be in a variety of places within Dorset and Somerset, in order to provide the necessary breadth of experience. This will involve some travel, and may require you to find short-term accommodation in order to participate in block placements. Although your term time address and method of transport are taken into consideration when allocating your placements there is an expectation that all students will have to travel up to 40 miles to reach their placements. Due to the more rural nature of some of the placements you may be required to travel further.

Your placement travel expenses will be reimbursed from the Department of Health and Student Finance England..

Placement locations

Each of our NHS-funded training courses contains a significant amount of placement experience, with this often being undertaken in outlying areas rather than solely in towns/cities. You need to consider this when making your application and be clear about what you will be undertaking. If your placement locality is to be assigned for the full length of the course, i.e. for Nursing, Midwifery and ODP, you will need to consider the realities of training within that geographical area and be specific about which would be suitable for you – whilst being flexible may in some circumstances increase your chances of success, being unrealistic will lead to problems. Don't forget to ensure that you take note of the locality you have been assigned when you receive your offer letter and arrange your accommodation accordingly.

You can find out more about our placement locations here.

Your application

Background and experience

We want dedicated, eager and enthusiastic students who are going to make a real difference to the course they are studying. Our students learn from each other, as well as their academic staff, so it is really important that you can show us how much you care about the course you are interested in. Your UCAS personal statement is a great place to do this. Tell us about your personal achievements or any relevant work experience you have done, and show us how they make you the ideal candidate for a place on the course.

For Operating Department Practice, we are looking for applicants who:

  • Have an interest in the compassionate care of surgical patients to improve their lives as well as the motivation and commitment to undertake the course
  • Show respect and give dignity to people recognising that everyone counts
  • Have undertaken care experience, preferably within an operating department
  • Have an awareness of the technical as well as caring aspects of the profession
  • Can demonstrate commitment to the quality of care and the importance of personal skills and qualities to work together for patients.

It is recommended that you have some care experience and that you have insight into working in an operating department. If you do not have any, you are strongly recommended to be able to demonstrate that you have a clear insight into the nature of this profession. To assist in gaining an insight, we encourage you to access experience within an operating department. Applicants without suitable experience should contact us as we may be able to provide a contact from a hospital for you to arrange an informal visit.

Our courses are built around the NHS Constitution's values, and when assessing your application we will take these values into consideration:

  • Working together for patients
  • Respect and dignity
  • Commitment to quality of care
  • Compassion
  • Improving lives
  • Everyone counts.

Find out more about the NHS Constitution principles.

IT Skills

IT skills are increasingly important in almost all professions. In the healthcare sector IT is now a vital tool for accessing and maintaining patient records, accessing literature to client care and conducting clinically-related research. As a student you will receive an introduction to IT near the beginning of your course and you will be provided with computer access and your own email address. During the course you will be expected to use your developing IT skills to produce assignments, to conduct literature searches, and to use client-related record systems in the clinical setting.

Selection methods

We’ll use the UCAS applications to create a shortlist of candidates that we would like to find out more about. You can find some handy hints about filling in your UCAS form on our how to apply webpages.

Because we need you to have practical and applicable skills in this particular subject, we’ll then invite the very best students for an interview. You must be able to demonstrate at interview that you show the necessary insight into operating department practice, as well as the motivation and commitment to become a practitioner.

Watch a webinar on how to write a good healthcare application.

What to expect at interview

The day will start at approximately 9.00am. You will be met by a member of the Admissions Team who will register your attendance. The interview session starts with a tour of our ODP skills lab by current ODP student(s). This is followed by a talk, informal group work and then individual interviews.  You will be scored using a common template and offers will be made based on these scores.

You can find further information about interviews with the Faculty of Health & Social Sciences here.

Additional reference

In addition to the reference on your UCAS form, once we’ve received your application we will contact you to ask for a second reference; this can be a different teacher/lecturer, employer or person who knows you in a professional capacity.

Our offer making process

Our offer making will typically be based on your main graded qualifications, including any required subjects. Additional study may be valuable for breadth of study, and we will look at a range of qualifications and subjects, including the Extended Project Qualification and General Studies, although these may not be part of our offer.

If you do not meet the criteria of your original offer, we may still offer you a place. We will review your whole application and consider all academic qualifications (including those not in the offer) and the rest of the application to see if you have the academic potential to succeed on the course. If we feel the answer is yes, we will still confirm your place.

How we'll assess your application

We look at individual applications and make a tailored offer based on your potential to succeed on the course considering a range of factors, including your academic achievements, work and other experience, predicted grades, reference and personal statement, and in some cases, your performance at an interview/selection test.

If you meet one or more of our contextual data indicators for educational disadvantage (such as being in care, living in a low participation neighbourhood or in an area with less advantaged socio-economic characteristics), your offer could be between 6-20 points below the published tariff.

Unconditional offer scheme

Applicants who are predicted to achieve strong academic results will be eligible for BU’s Unconditional Offer Scheme in recognition of their academic performance and potential to succeed at university. If you are selected for the scheme and commit to us as your firm choice of university, then we will match this commitment by making your offer unconditional, which will guarantee your place at BU.

You will receive a standard conditional offer based on the entry requirements for your course via UCAS Track and your offer letter – it will advise that you are eligible for the unconditional offer scheme. We will then update your offer to unconditional should you choose BU as your firm choice on UCAS Track. We believe that unconditional offers reduce pressure on applicants who will continue to strive to achieve the best grades possible, and we will reward you with an Academic Excellence scholarship of £1,000 in your first year if you achieve AAA or above at A-level or equivalent.

2018 entry requirements

We use the UCAS Tariff to show our entry requirements and will accept a combination of grades from your qualifications. You can use the UCAS calculator to see how your qualifications equate to tariff points.

The entry requirements for this course are 96 - 104 tariff points including a minimum of 2 A-levels or equivalent.

Excluded subjects: This course does not accept General Studies A or AS-level but Critical Thinking is accepted.

GCSEs: This course requires GCSE English and Mathematics grade C (or grade 4 in the reformed GCSE grading) or equivalent qualifications.

Numeracy and literacy: We need to be sure that you can express yourself in written English and have basic numeracy skills. We look at Level 2 of the National Qualifications Framework, which includes GCSEs, iGCSEs, Key Skills and Functional Skills Level 2. If you do not have formal qualifications to this level or have alternatives, we may still be able to consider your application – please contact the Future Students Enquiry Team to find out more.

If English is not your first language: you will need IELTS (Academic) 7.0 with minimum 6.5 in each component or equivalent. This is a Health Care Professions Council (HCPC) requirement.

Other qualifications: We have outlined below other qualifications that we consider for this course. If you are studying a qualification that is not listed, please contact the Future Students Enquiry Team – it may be that we can still consider it.

Access courses: 96 - 102 tariff points with any combination of Distinction, Merit, Pass grades.

BTEC qualifications:

  • Extended Diploma: This course requires Merit, Merit, Merit (96 tariff points)
  • Diploma: Accepted as part of the overall tariff but it must be accompanied by an A-level or equivalent
  • BTEC National Foundation Diploma/ 90-credit Diploma: Accepted as part of the overall tariff but it must be accompanied by A-levels or equivalent
  • BTEC National Extended Certificate/ Subsidiary Diploma: Accepted as part of the overall tariff but it must be accompanied by A-levels or equivalent

Cambridge Pre-U Diploma: 96- 104 tariff points including a minimum of 2 principal subjects.

Cambridge Technical qualifications:

  • Extended Diploma: This course requires Merit, Merit, Merit (96 tariff points) 
  • Diploma: Accepted as part of the overall tariff but it must be accompanied by an A-level or equivalent.
  • Subsidiary Diploma: Accepted as part of the overall tariff but it must be accompanied by A-levels or equivalent
  • Introductory Diploma: Accepted as part of the overall tariff but it must be accompanied by A-levels or equivalent

International Baccalaureate (Diploma): 26 - 29 points overall including grade H5 from 2 Higher Level subjects.

Scottish Advanced Higher: 96 - 104 tariff points including a minimum of 2 Advanced Highers.

Welsh Baccalaureate Advanced Diploma: Accepted as part of the overall tariff but it must be accompanied by A-levels or equivalent.

Extended Project Qualification: Accepted as part of the overall tariff but it must be accompanied by 3 A-levels or equivalent qualifications.

Other Health Care Level 3 Qualifications and Bridging Programmes: We are aware that there are a wide range of health care qualifications which people undertake in their workplace. Find out more about Bridging Programmes and some frequently asked questions about them here. If you would like to know if the qualifications you have or are working towards meet our entry criteria; please ring the Future Students Enquiry Team on 01202 961916 or email us for further information and advice.

Deferred entry: We are happy to consider applicants for deferred entry.

Non-academic requirements

Occupational Health (OH) Checks

This is a physically and mentally demanding and you will  need to be mentally and physically able to undertake your chosen course. Places are offered subject to passing an OH check, and this will be carried out at the University Hospital Southampton. Health conditions  need to be dealt with on an individual basis e.g. deafness, blindness, eczema (or other dermatological allergic reactions) on exposed areas, epilepsy,  back problems, or mental health conditions, eating disorders and other disabilities. These do not automatically exclude you but please ensure that you fully disclose your condition  to OH. The University can then consider the recommendations made by OH and whether reasonable adjustments can be made to support you on your chosen course. If you require more guidance please contact us for more information.

You will be required to provide a record of your immunity status or be vaccinated or have the required blood tests. Please see this table for the required immunisations. You may need to ask your GP or current OH department or find your childhood vaccination record  for details of your past immunisation records. You should be aware that there may be charges made (for which you will be liable) relating to your gaining the appropriate immunity required prior to starting your training programme.

Refusing Immunisations

The University has an expectation that all students will comply with the vaccination programme.  This ensures that you will be able to undertake the wide range of training placements that your course  will require. Occasionally some vaccinations  are contraindicated in certain medical conditions. OH will advise the University in these cases.The University will consider students on an individual basis. Refusal to have immunisations will result in the student not being allowed to attend practice placement and being withdrawn from the course. There is no opportunity to appeal against the requirements of the immunisation policy.

Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) Check (previously known as CRB)

All successful applicants will be subject to an Enhanced Disclosure and Barred List check; this will be a condition of offer and will need to be completed prior to commencing the course. Please see the Government website for the most up to date information.

International entry requirements

From September 2018 we will be welcoming international students to this course.

English language requirements

If English is not your first language, you will need to provide evidence that you can understand English to a satisfactory level. English language requirements for this course are normally:

  • IELTS (Academic) 7.0 (with minimum 6.5 in each of the 4 components of writing, speaking, listening and reading or equivalent.

View further information about our English language requirements.

If you do not meet the English language requirement for your degree then why not join our Pre-Sessional English course. Successful completion of our Pre-Sessional English course will meet your English language requirement, without the need to re-take IELTS.

Academic entry requirements

You can find details of the international qualifications we accept, and what level of study they apply to, on our entry requirements for non-UK students’ page.

We offer a number of preparatory programmes through the Bournemouth University International College. These courses offer you progression from High School in your home country to a Bachelor’s degree at BU.


If shortlisted for interview you will be notified of the interview arrangements once your application has been processed. 

Your lecturers

Lesley Elcock

Lesley qualified as a Registered General Nurse (Salisbury School of Nursing) in 1994 and her first job was in A and E, she very much enjoyed the care of the whole family and went on to do my Registered Sick Children’s Nursing. An interest in surgery led to a staff nurse position of the then new Day Surgery Unit at Salisbury District Hospital. As one of the Sisters on the unit Lesley became involved in the teaching of the ENB Day Surgery course, this lead onto a Lecturer Practitioner role within the University. After many years working alongside my Operating Department Practice (ODP) colleagues she was very pleased to be invited to be part of the ODP Team, Lesley then obtained her PGCE from Southampton University, focusing on the postanaesthetic care of patients, and the in 2014 becoming the programme lead for the course. 

John Tarrant

John has a clear focus on developing and enhancing the student learning experience on the Operating Department Pratice programme.

Educated in Medical Sciences, John then undertook his ODP training in 1998 at Royal Bournemouth Hospital. For a number of years John worked as a Lecturer Practitioner: both as a Senior ODP in clinical practice (perioperative practice) and as the Programme Leader at Bournemouth University.


  • Students in professional/managerial job six months after graduation: 100%*
  • Students in work/study six months after graduation:100%*

You might think that the name of this course covers all the potential career options, but the skills you'll gain through this degree will make you just as suited to a role in critical care as to operating department practice.

Within six months of graduating 100%* of our students are working in professional or managerial jobs, with the majority taking on roles within operating theatres, although a growing number are moving into other areas of critical care, such as anaesthesia, helicopter emergency medical services and trauma teams.

An ODP qualification is therefore incredibly versatile and can lead you into a wide range of careers and healthcare environments, including:

  • First assistant to the surgeon
  • Surgical assistant
  • Accident and emergency
  • Manager
  • Anaesthesic practitioner.

On graduating successfully, you will be eligible to apply for professional registration with the Health & Care Professions Council (HCPC) and this course is also accredited by the College of Operating Department Practitioners (CODP).

HCPC registration will not only enable you to work as an ODP in the UK, but in many other countries all over the world.

Industries worked in

  • Healthcare
  • Education.

Future study

Once you have completed an undergraduate Honours degree, you can further develop your education by studying for a postgraduate degree. Please visit our Postgraduate section for further details about our range of Master's degrees.

You can also continue your education through professional development units and courses.

*All statistics shown are taken from Unistats, Destination of Leavers from Higher Education (DLHE), BU institutional data and Ipsos MORI (National Student Survey) unless otherwise stated.

No hidden extras

Course specific material(s) included in your tuition fee:

  • Professional body accreditation of the course
  • Disclosure and Barring Service Check
  • Occupational Health Check
  • Uniforms

As a student at BU we will provide many things to support you and there will also be additional costs you may encounter whilst studying at BU. The information below will help you understand our provision and what you need to budget for.

What you can expect from us

All of your teaching and assessments are included in your tuition fees, including, lectures/guest lectures and tutorials, seminars, laboratory sessions and specialist teaching facilities. You will also have access to a wide range of support and services, many of these are included on the Next Steps insert enclosed with your offer letter.

  • One set of study-related consumables such as a memory stick/ DVD
  • Materials for laboratory and field-based teaching activity
  • Support for placements (UK or abroad) and fieldwork, and non-financial support whilst on placement
  • A range of student services – advisors, help desks, counsellors, placement support and careers service
  • The Library – access to a wide range of electronic resources (databases, e-journals and e-books), print and multimedia collections, subject librarians and study spaces
  • IT labs (some open 24/7), wireless network, AV equipment to borrow
  • Peer Assisted Learning (PAL) scheme
  • Disability and additional learning support
  • The BU Language Centre to help you develop/improve foreign or English language skills
  • 24 hours a day, 365 days a year security team.

Costs of living and other expenses you need to consider

  • Accommodation and living costs: view our price guide and the Health and Social Science accommodation pages
  • Text books: remember that our award-winning library is stocked with a large range of text books for all courses, as well as online resources such as industry journals, free of charge
  • General stationery and other supplies such as print and presentation materials: the Students’ Union shops stock a wide range of stationery supplies on both campuses
  • Travel to, from and between BU campuses: our bus service operates in the local areas offering a subsided travel rate; we also have a large number of secure bike storage compounds
  • Travel to placement is your responsibility; you may be able to reclaim costs from NHS Student Bursaries
  • SportBU membership: check out our student membership packages, sports events, varsity teams, information about our new facilities and more at the SportBU pages
  • Optional fieldwork travel, outdoor wear and footwear (where applicable)
  • Telephone and travel costs incurred when undertaking interviews for coursework/securing placements
  • A fee will be payable towards the cost of an Educational Psychology Assessment if this is required in connection with additional learning support. BU pays for approximately two-thirds of the cost of this assessment for UK students. For more details and current pricing please visit the Students section of the website.

Repeat units

If you need to repeat one or more units during the course of your studies (with or without attendance) you will be required to pay an additional fee of £1,500 per 20 credit unit. 

Financial help available from BU

We offer a range of scholarships and bursaries to students who are beginning their studies at BU. Our website also provides details on living costs, budgeting and paying your tuition fees.

Course Changes

The table below indicates the latest changes to this course.

Date Changes to this course Where the change was made Previous text

2018 entry requirements have changed to 96 - 104 tariff points including a minimum of 2 A-levels or equivalent.

Key facts and 2018 entry requirements 

The entry requirements for this course are 120-128 tariff points from 3 A-levels. BTEC Extended Diploma: DDM.


2018 GCSE entry requirements have changed to This course requires GCSE English and Mathematics grade C (or grade 4 in the reformed GCSE grading) or equivalent qualifications. 2018 entry requirements

This course requires a minimum of 4 GCSEs grades A* - C (or grade 4 or above in the newly reformed GCSE grading) including Maths and English or equivalent qualifications.

Hear from our staff

Lesley Elcock

This course prepares students for a career in a perioperative environment through mixing clinical skills and academic knowledge, with 60% of the course working alongside practitioners in the operating departments of the region's hospitals

Hear from our alumni

James Ackroyd

I really would recommend BU to anyone that wants not only to achieve a great qualification, but also wants to have a great time doing it.

Additional information

Open Days

Open Days

We give a warm welcome to anyone who comes to meet us and we love showing off our campuses and Bournemouth to prospective students and their families. 

An NHS student

NHS placement locations

Find out more about our NHS locations and where you may be based for some of your NHS placements.

Image of people jumping

Application and interview guidance

Watch helpful videos on what we are looking for in your healthcare application - what to include in your personal statement and interview preparation tips.
Mature students

Mature students

Find out what it’s like to be a mature student at BU, and what support services we offer that may be of use.

Students examining patients

Hospital wards

Find out about our patient ward where you can get used to working in a hospital ward setting and practise your skills.

Operating theatre

Operating theatre

Experience what it’s like to work in an operating theatre within our dedicated surgical facility.