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A REGIONAL burns centre which had to close a ward due to a shortage of specialised staff will move to a different location close by.

The Welsh Centre for Burns and Plastic Surgery at Morriston Hospital shut its inpatient ward between October and February.

It has been impacted by a reduction in anaesthetic consultant numbers due to retirement and long-term sickness, according to a Swansea Bay University Health Board risk report.

The unit was confirmed as the regional centre of excellence for burns patients in Wales and the South West of England in 2010. The Welsh Government refurbished and extended it at a cost of £10 million. The centre was said to treat around 750 patients per year.

The health board said it was able to assess and treat urgent burns cases while the inpatient ward was closed. These cases could then be transferred to other UK specialist burns centres. It added that the service’s other work continued as normal.

The ward reopened on February 14 with ongoing support from intensive care consultants and anaesthetists.

The plan now is to co-locate the burns centre within Morriston Hospital’s general intensive care unit – a move which is expected to be completed by mid-2023 and, according a report by health board chief executive Mark Hackett, require “significant capital investment”.

Speaking at a health board meeting, Mr Hackett paid tribute to staff members Mark Ramsey, Tersa Humphreys and Richard Evans for their work in reopening the burns service and setting out a plan for its long-term sustainability.

Last month the health board said the burns service was seeing more elderly patients and expressed concerns that, with energy bills soraing, the number could rise as people used heaters to keep warm.

Speaking at the time, burns centre occupational therapist Janine Evans said our skin became thinner as we aged, meaning accidental burn injuries were a higher risk.

She said:

“The physiological changes that occur as we age, such as increased frailty, reduced cognition, and a decline in vision and perception, mean older adults are at a higher risk of an accidental burn injury.”

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