THE Odstock Burns Unit and the plastic surgery department at Salisbury District Hospital (SDH) both work closely together and serve a population of four million from the Channel Islands, all along the south coast and up to Basingstoke.

Twelve consultant plastic surgeons work as part of a team of nurses, nursing assistants, psychologists, dieticians and therapists, providing emergency plastic surgery, treatment for burns, trauma and complex microsurgical burns reconstruction for patients.

The centre is integrated with the major trauma unit at Southampton General Hospital.

Eunan Tiernan, a consultant plastic surgeon and burns service clinical lead who joined SDH in 1996, said: “In the burns unit we treat 250 adults and around 100 children per year. Not all of those are admissions – we have a very good paediatric outreach nurse so that patients can be looked after at home and have shorter hospital stays.

“There is a revamped modern scar clinic, with a scientist, offering up-to-date treatment to help burns patients manage their appearance after some really nasty burns.

"We have access to an excellent intensive care unit here in Salisbury, so we can treat the patients there, do surgery on them and rehabilitate them in the hospital as well.

“We treat burns up to about 40 per cent of the body surface area for adults and up to about 30 per cent of the body surface area for children.

"A patient’s stay within the hospital can vary from a day or two up to four or five weeks, depending on how bad the injury is, with older patients, who may have scalded themselves in the bath for example, needing more assistance to get back on their feet.

“One of the aspects of many patients having suffered burns and then having undergone reconstructive surgery is that they often have to have a number of procedures to be able to achieve a good functional result and they require treatment for their scars over a number of years.”

The plastics department provides complex reconstruction for microvascular surgery, the replacement and replantation of amputated parts, trauma and cancer reconstruction. It also undertakes cleft lip and palate surgery.

"We do around 175 complex microsurgical reconstructions, ranging from limb salvage through to breast reconstruction every year, with results that are among the best in Britain,” said Mr Tiernan.

“We have a lot of trauma cases, particularly for patients in car crashes, and we work to salvage legs that would otherwise need to be amputated.

"We also have an expertise in reconstruction on servicemen who have had very nasty injuries in wars and require multiple reconstructions over a prolonged period of time for amputated limbs.”

The service includes day-to-day hand trauma and tendon repairs.

Plastic surgeons work with skin cancer patients and work with the breast care team, in breast reconstruction.

Dr Tiernan who joined SDH in 1996 said: "There is a very close working relationship among all members of staff who have built up a centre of excellence over the years."