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European Operating Room Nurses demand unified training; greater recognition at EU level

February 15th: European Day of Perioperative Nursing

Brussels/Dublin, 10 February 2011 - On the occasion of the 6th European Day of Perioperative Nursing, to be celebrated on 15 February 2011, the European Operating Room Nurses Association (EORNA) calls for the urgent implementation, at EU level, of a minimum basic level of perioperative nursing education, a credit-based continuous education system, and the mandatory rotation of student nurses into the operating department in order to expose students to this critical care area and encourage recruitment to this important nursing speciality. This crucial nursing specialisation is facing a labour shortage exacerbated by the lack of uniform training programmes and diplomas recognised at EU level by fellow Member States. This creates a barrier to mobility within the EU, contributes to keeping salaries low and hinders recognition of a key nursing specialisation.

Depending on their country of origin, perioperative nurses specialise in perioperative nursing for 1-2 postgraduate years following their registered general nurse training. There is a large variation in minimum training standards for nurses worldwide with some countries’ national Nursing Boards requiring Masters degrees from universities and other countries leaving it up to hospitals to organise training courses and set their own standards.

EORNA, which represents 50,000 members, is lobbying for greater equity across EU countries, and points out that even continuous education based on a credit system (as offered to its members via the EORNA Accreditation Council for Education, or ACE programme) pre-supposes a common level of initial training. In order to address the growing shortage of perioperative nurses in Europe, EORNA also emphasises the need to encourage the perioperative nurse training pathway, through the mandatory rotation of student nurses through operating theatre departments..

EORNA agrees with the conclusions of the Employment, Social Policy Health and Consumer Affairs Council meeting of 7 December 2010, and encourages Member States to “develop appropriate initiatives to invest in sufficient, motivated and well-skilled health professionals in order to protect the viability and accessibility of the health systems”. EORNA also supports the European Federation of Nurses Association, which recently called upon the European Parliament to address the subject.

Recognition for training
Perioperative nurses – often referred to as Operating Room (OR) nurses - work in hospital surgical departments, day-surgery units and clinics. Their main role includes all critical patient care nursing activities performed in the preoperative (before), intraoperative (during) and postoperative (after) phases of surgery. There are key psychological and advocate roles undertaken for each individual.

Perioperative Nursing Day 2011
The 6th European Day of Perioperative Nursing theme “Effective Team Communication improves Patient Safety” aims to draw attention to the critical role that perioperative nurses play in ensuring positive patient outcomes in surgery. It has been estimated that by adhering to the WHO surgery checklist, surgery complications were reduced by more than one-third and deaths reduced by almost half in test hospitals compared to control hospitals. At least half a million deaths per year worldwide would be preventable if the WHO Surgical Safety Checklist were effectively implemented. Perioperative nurses are key players in the Operating Theatre teams communicating via these safety checklists: in line with the WHO ‘Safe surgery saves Lives’ initiatives, they ensure all identified aspects are checked and verbalized as accurate and correct by each relevant team member. This philosophy is summarized in the motto: “Speak up Speak out” in the best interest of patient safety and care.

The various activities organised on 15 February in various Member States are an opportunity to put perioperative nursing in the spotlight. Stands will be set up in hospitals in various countries, UK is undertaking a promotional campaign in relation to communication and the check list, Greece are hosting an event in central Athens, Ireland have organized a badge promotional initiative and local hospitals have planned study evenings and discussion forums, France have regional meetings with public, Cyprus have an event in Honour of their famous nurse at her monument and an evening seminar. Many other countries have study days, open theatre days and discussion events planned. Other members have joined related associations to celebrate the day.

“With this initiative we want to obtain more recognition for our profession. We also want to draw the EU’s attention to the barrier to free movement which is the result of such a disparate approach to education,” explains Caroline Higgins, President of EORNA. “Really, the education issue impacts recruitment and retention far more than was previously thought.”


A non-for-profit association, the European Operating Room Nurses Association (EORNA) was founded in 1980, and today consists of 25 member associations, representing 50,000 Healthcare professionals. EORNA exists to enhance and develop perioperative patient care across Europe. It does so by promoting and maintaining a high standard of perioperative patient care; by being the influential voice of perioperative nurses in Europe; and by linking and collaborating with relevant European and international organizations. One of the EORNA's most important educational activities is EORNA ACE, the Accreditation Council for Education. An overview of EORNA ACE is available from the website EORNA host a highly rated congress every three years, next congress will be held in Lisboa Portugal in April 2012

Ansell Healthcare ( supports EORNA with specific courses from its AnsellCares® educational programme and is a proud sponsor of the 6th European Day of Perioperative Nurses.

Note to editors:

More info and posters of the 6th European Day of Perioperative Nurses may be downloaded from

For more information about EORNA or the issues facing peri-operative nurses in Europe, please contact:

Caroline Higgins, EORNA President
tel: +353 12213621
cellular: +353 86 8336437

Wouter Piepers

Global Communications Director

Phone: +32 2 528 75 68

Fax: +32 2 528 74 01

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