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Burns care still a lottery in UK


Thousands of people are hospitalised for burns in the UK every year, of which 6,500 are children. But like many sections of the NHS, where they live will determine how well they are treated. Survival statistics improve every year, but the success in improving appearance, dealing with an altered appearance and depression and re-integration into the community can depend on where one is treated.

The National Burns Care Group (NBCG) is expected to submit proposals at the end of this year to promote equity in burns care, but ’there may or may not be changes, it will depend on funding,’ says Peter Dziewuloski, lead burns consultant at St Andrews in Chelmsford.

Outdated treatments in some centres and a lack of national standards mean that many burns survivors in the UK are not getting adequate care, and in some cases, are treated by staff with no specialist training. Burns care has been the "Cinderella" of the NHS for many years, and has not attracted much public funding. The NBCG proposals are the result of review instigated in 1997 by the British Burns Association because the standard of UK burn care services was considered to be "disorganised, fragmented, inadequate and inequitable".

The need for change has been unanimously recognised by all in the burn care community,’ says James Partridge, Ceo of Changing Faces, a group that helps those living with disfigurement. There is consensus that UK patients are not getting the care that they should be. ’I am trying to look on the bright side, there is a good chance that changes are on their way,’ he says. Burn care services are still not geographically equitable, acute care for children needs to be improved and rehabilitation services for psycho-social problems are still not adequately invested in. And in these days of high terror alert, it is worrying that the country’s burn care services would struggle to cope with 100 casualties.

Jacqueline Ali | alfa
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