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An interview with Burn’s Unit Outpatient Clinician Emma Bell

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At the Children’s Burns Trust, we work with burn care professionals all over the country to support their vital work, including prevention, rehabilitation and support.  We invited Emma Bell, a Burn’s Unit Outpatient Clinician at Broomfield Hospital in Essex, to share her experiences of working on a burns ward and how her team support children and their families. As Emma explains, she has produced a leaflet to help make parents aware of the risk of burns to small children, and what they should do if an accident does occur. 

My name is Emma Bell and I am a Nursery Nurse on the Children’s Burns ward at Broomfield Hospital in Chelmsford, Essex. I have worked on the Children’s Burns Ward for the last 10 years and thoroughly enjoy my job.  

We are a regional burns unit so we have a very large catchment area, we see patients from Kent all the way up to Norfolk. 

My role includes debriding and dressing burn wounds in our outpatient clinic as well as supporting patients and their families during their stay in hospital. 

People often ask me how I could possibly enjoy working on the Children’s Burns Ward, and how I can deal with seeing what we see.  I am so proud to work on the ward.  The team we have and the dedication to our patients is outstanding.  Our multi-disciplinary team work hard to support patients throughout their recovery and continue to do so long after the physical wounds have healed. Yes, it can be tough some days, but seeing how well burn injuries heal with the correct treatment still amazes me and I love to see the shocked and delighted faces of our patients and their families when the dressings are removed and the wound has fully healed.  Having parents return to the ward just to update us and thank us for helping their children recover will always warm my heart and make the job worthwhile.

I now have two young children, and since returning from maternity leave I have become the lead for burns prevention along with my colleague JSR Sophie Mills.  We regularly post safety and prevention tips on our social media in order to reach as many people as possible and spread the message about burns prevention. 

Since having my own children, I have experienced first-hand how many potential dangers there are, not only around the house but out and about too for example in coffee shops. I’m so grateful that I know exactly what to do in a burn emergency situation and I feel passionate about sharing this information to other parents/carers.

Research shows that over 7000 children are admitted to a specialist burns service every year.

In light of this I recently produced a leaflet full of burns prevention information aimed at parents with small children. The leaflet highlights all potential burn hazards around the home and also has first aid information should a burn occur.  It is available to download here.

The Children’s Burns Trust have been very supportive and so far, it has been distributed by local midwives to all new parents, it is now available in waiting rooms for children’s services around the hospital and will also be included in the Children’s Burns Trust under 5 years resource packs.

My aim is to distribute the leaflet across our catchment area and eventually to health care centres nationwide.

Unfortunately, accidents do and will happen, but hopefully the severity of burns can be reduced if we spread the word and people have a better awareness of correct burns first aid.

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