The General Theatres department in Wonford has ten modern operating theatres, which provide access for:

  • Colorectal
  • Upper Gastro-Intestinal
  • Breast and Endocrine
  • Urology
  • Vascular
  • Maxillofacial
  • ENT (Ear, Nose & Throat)
  • Trauma
  • Plastics and Reconstructive surgery
  • 24-hour emergency surgery

The 15-bedded recovery unit, or Post Anaesthesia Care Unit (PACU), provides us with immediate post-operative care for patients following procedures under general, regional or local anaesthesia. The service fits together with the clinical provision by theatres and has the capacity to accept three Intensive Care Unit/High Dependency Unit patients, depending on bed availability.

There is a 15-bedded Intensive Care Unit (ICU) and High Dependency Unit (HDU) on Level 2, next to General Theatres.

We run four theatre suites in the community, at Axminster, Exmouth, Sidmouth and Tiverton.

More on what we do

General Theatres offers a 24-hour service.

Our team of around 200 staff is committed to providing you with a safe and caring environment that maintains your confidentiality and dignity at all times. We provide individualised care for each patient and, wherever possible, meet any special needs or requests within our scope of practice. We ensure that continuity of care is maintained by all the multi-disciplinary team members involved with your care.


As part of your surgery, anaesthetics are used to prevent pain and discomfort. Depending on the procedure, they will be used to either numb certain areas of your body or send you to sleep. Anaesthetics are administered by an anaesthetist, a doctor who has received specialist training in anaesthesia.

You will meet with your anaesthetist before surgery and discuss a number of things, including the appropriate types of anaesthetic and any associated risks or side effects. They'll plan your anaesthetic and pain control with you, taking any preferences and concerns into account. Your anaesthetist will also carefully monitor you throughout the operation and make sure you wake up comfortably afterwards.


On the day of your surgery, you'll be welcomed by a member of staff on the ward who will go through paperwork with you and give you two identity bracelets to wear during your stay. They will check everything is satisfactory and take some basic observations. 

The surgeon may come and have a chat with you, to discuss your procedure and check that you’re still happy to have surgery. They may draw an arrow on the part of body that will be operated on, and will countersign your consent form.

Just before the operation, you will be asked to get undressed and change into a hospital gown. When the theatre staff (who will stay with you throughout your time in theatre) come to collect you for theatres, one of the team will go through a series of questions, to ensure everything is ready and correct. You will then be accompanied to the theatre department.

Once you arrive in the anaesthetic room for theatre, you will be asked more questions to confirm your identity, before being connecting to our special monitoring equipment. For many operations, a needle is used to insert a small plastic tube called a cannula into a vein (normally on a hand). This cannula allows fluids, nourishment and medicine to be given during the operation. After you receive your anaesthetics, the operation will be ready to begin.


Following your surgery, you will be looked after in our recovery unit, which allows for a gentle, relaxed wake up from your anaesthetic. Recovery staff will assess your pain control and comfort to assess when you are suitably recovered to return to the ward.

Sometimes patients are unable to follow their recovery plan, but this is not a problem. We will adapt your recovery to suit your personal needs.


General Theatres has 10 theatres covering a total of nine different specialities, providing a range of modern surgical procedures to treat a range of health conditions.

Theatre 1: Oral and maxillofacial surgery
This surgical specialty deals with the diagnosis and treatment of diseases affecting the mouth, jaws, face and neck.

Theatre 2: Urology and robotics
This branch of medicine focuses on surgical and medical diseases that affect the male and female urinary tract system, including the kidneys, urinary bladder and urethra, and the male reproductive organs, including the testes, prostate, and penis.

Theatre 3: Upper gastrointestinal (GI) surgery
This surgical treatment deals with diseases of the gall bladder, liver and pancreas (hepatobiliary system) and the oesophagus, stomach and small bowel (upper gastrointestinal tract).

Theatre 4: Colorectal surgery
This field of medicine deals with disorders of the rectum, anus and colon.

Theatre 5: Vascular surgery
This surgical subspecialty manages diseases of the vascular system (arteries and veins) with medical therapy, minimally-invasive catheter procedures and surgical reconstruction.

Theatre 6: Plastic surgery
This surgical specialty involving the restoration, reconstruction or alteration of the human body. It includes cosmetic or aesthetic surgery, reconstructive surgery, craniofacial surgery, hand surgery, microsurgery, and the treatment of burns.

Theatre 7: ENT (ear, nose & throat) surgery
This surgical specialty focuses on diagnoses, evaluates and manages a wide range of diseases of the head and neck, including the ear, nose and throat regions.

Theatre 8: Trauma and orthopaedics
This branch of surgery concerns conditions involving the musculoskeletal system, and General Theatres is responsible for the emergency aspect of orthopaedic surgery.

Theatre 9: Emergency theatre
All the above specialities are covered by this theatre, but all patients accepted onto the operating list require immediate or urgent care to prevent potentially life-threatening conditions.

Theatre 10
This covers a variety of specialities inclusive of ENT surgery, general surgery, breast surgery, colorectal surgery and vascular surgery.

Our team

Within our team, there are around 145 theatre staff and 52 recovery unit staff, consisting of staff nurses, operating department practitioners (ODP) and theatre assistants, working alongside consultant surgeons, registrars, consultant anaesthetists, junior doctors and specialist practitioners. We cover a large number of specialities and run a rota for staff to be resident in the hospital overnight for emergencies.

The senior matron and theatre manager oversee the running of the department, and support over 150 staff within the department. Alongside this, the senior ODP oversees the trained staff working within anaesthetics, and the recovery matron runs our recovery suite and the team of staff working within recovery.

Where to find us

RD&E Wonford, Barrack Rd, Exeter EX2 5DW

Level 2, Area L

Contact us

If you want to contact us, please call 01392 402415 or 01392 402416.

Our reception desk is manned from 7.30am to 4pm on weekdays.

Community services

We run four theatre suites in the community, at Axminster, Exmouth, Sidmouth and Tiverton. Each of the suites has one operating theatre, for day-case elective surgical procedures, and a recovery room and day-case ward, which provide immediate post-operative care for patients following procedures under general, regional or local anaesthesia.

In addition to this, we also have a three-theatre unit with a recovery room and day-case ward within Heavitree Hospital, for day-case elective surgical procedures.

Children and young people

Within General Theatres we offer a paediatric service which runs alongside our adult services, as part of our normal lists or via running specialist list for paediatrics.

Children are accompanied to theatre with a parent and a staff member from our children’s ward (Bramble). The children can follow a path of jigsaw puzzle pieces up from the ward to the theatre department.


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