UWE links with new Healing Foundation Centre for Children's Burns Research

Issue date: 10 June 2013

A £1.5 million research centre to find new advances in the prevention and treatment of children's burns has just been launched at Frenchay Hospital.

The Healing Foundation Centre for Children's Burns Research will develop new techniques and approaches to prevent burns and scalds and improve the clinical care and recovery of children who have suffered burns. One of the research strands will be into psychological healing and rehabilitation, led by the Centre for Appearance Research (CAR) at UWE Bristol.

Falklands War veteran Simon Weston, Lead Ambassador for the Healing Foundation, visited Frenchay Hospital to see the work of the children's burns team and meet patients.

Each year 23,000 children are hospitalised with burns in England and Wales.

Two children are brought in to the South West UK Children's Burn Centre at Frenchay Hospital with scalds every day.

Some burns can be life-threatening and in some cases the effects can be life-long, and include physical scarring, chronic pain and psychological difficulties.

The new research centre is based at the South West UK Children's Burns Centre at Frenchay Hospital, Bristol. It is led by the University of Bristol in partnership with clinicians from the North Bristol NHS Trust and academics at UWE Bristol, the University of Bath and Cardiff University.

The centre has been awarded £1.5m over five years from the Healing Foundation, a national charity funding research into new surgical and psychological healing techniques for people living with disfigurement.

Each partner has also provided funding, along with the Welsh Government which is contributing £280,000.

The Healing Foundation Centre for Children's Burns Research will focus on three key strands of research:

  • The clinical treatment of children with burns, including burn wound management and developing current research in partnership with the University of Bath looking at smart dressings which can indicate infection.
  • Psychological healing and rehabilitation lead by the Centre for Appearance Research (CAR) at UWE Bristol to research ways of improving the psychological outcome of burn injury and promote the rehabilitation of children back into school and social networks.
  • Prevention research building on previous research collaborations between the University of Bristol and Cardiff University to develop programmes to prevent burn and scald injuries to children.

Professor Alan Emond, a senior academic paediatrician, leads the research team, with Dr Amber Young, lead consultant for the South West UK Children's Burn Centre at Frenchay.

Professor Emond said, “This is an exciting new multi-disciplinary research initiative, which will improve the evidence base for both the prevention and treatment of burns, and train researchers of the future.”

Dr Young said, “The support of the Healing Foundation is a huge accolade for the quality of burns care at Frenchay Hospital and of the research already being undertaken in Bristol and Bath.

“The centre will bring enhanced infrastructure and support allowing innovation and advances in the way we understand and treat burns wounds to ensure that more children can go on to live healthy, happy lives free from the physical and psychological scars of a burn injury.”

Brendan Eley, Chief Executive of the Healing Foundation said, “The team assembled to drive this research programme is world-leading and has beaten very stiff competition from leading universities and hospitals across the UK to win this important award.

“We are confident that the work of this centre will deliver real benefits to those children who suffer scalds and burns as well as bring new understanding to how such injuries in the future can be better prevented.”

The Healing Foundation Centre for Children's Burns Research will move to the Bristol Royal Hospital for Children in 2014 when paediatric services move from Frenchay Hospital.

Ava's story

The work of the Healing Foundation Centre for Children's Burns Research will help children like 11-month-old Ava Batten who was rushed to Frenchay Hospital's Children's Burns Centre on May 25 with a serious burn on her chest from a cup of tea.

She is now back at home and recovering well but mum Clodagh said it was a frightening experience to see the damage that a cup of tea can do to the skin of young children.

“As parents we always keep hot drinks out of Ava's reach because we know it can be a risk but a friend placed a cup of tea on the coffee table and Ava came along and tried to drink it, burning her lip and tipping the tea on to her chest.

“We immediately put her under a cold shower to cool the skin down but it was awful to see her skin start to blister.

“Ava is back to her normal happy self, playing and laughing. It has reaffirmed to us the danger of a hot drink around small children.”

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