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St Andrews - News

5th March 2014


St Andrew’s Burns and Plastics – 40 Years and still going strong!


St Andrew’s Centre, the world renowned Burns and Plastic Surgery centre celebrates its 40th birthday celebrations this year, from simple beginnings to world recognition!

The original St Andrew’s service started life as a district general hospital way back in 1967, and was based in Billericay, in what became the home of the now famous burns and plastic service.

Following the Second World War, innovative techniques for plastic surgery were being pioneered on badly burned allied pilots, and small regional hospitals that specialised in this form of surgery sprung up outside of the main hospitals situated in London. A lot of this early pioneering work is still very much in evidence today.

St Andrew’s become the Regional Plastic Surgery and Rehabilitation Unit following the opening of a new general hospital in Basildon. The original plastic surgery centre was opened in Billericay in May 1973, with a consultant by the name of Tony Wallace as one of the founding members of the service, alongside fellow consultants Mike Hackett and Raoul Sandon (both of whom have sadly died in the intervening years). The wards for plastic surgery patients required alterations. Langdon Ward acquired part of the Casualty Department, Burstead Ward was converted into a Children's Ward and Villerica and Brooks Wards were altered to incorporate large treatment rooms. The Unit had 67 beds.

Funding for this new centre was raised through both local fundraising efforts and a large donation from the Shell Oil Refinery at Corringham (this was the result of a serious fire at the refinery). The location was also a major factor when deciding on Billericay, the town having its own railway station that was about two minutes from the hospital and excellent transport links via the A12 and A13 (the M25 still hadn’t been built in these early days of the service).

The St Andrew’s ethos of hard work, innovative research and team working evolved from these early days at Billericay, and the reputation of the service continued to grow through the 70’s and 80’s with the opening of a brand new burns centre in December 1982.

With a growing number of surgical specialities being undertaken by St Andrew’s, and the hospital buildings in need of extensive redevelopment, after long negotiations on 1st April 1995 the St. Andrews Centre become part of the Mid Essex Hospital Services NHS Trust, and the decision was taken to move the service to a larger location. In 1998 the Centre moved from Billericay to its current home at Broomfield Hospital. Highlighting the commitment and devotion of the staff to St Andrew’s and their patients, over 70% moved over to the new location.

St Andrew’s is now a world renowned centre, 60% to 70% of plastic surgeons across the UK have trained and worked there, with over 20 consultants specialising in various types of surgery, from serious burns cases to cleft facial work, skin cancers to breast reconstruction. The centre performs approx 14,000 operations a year, and sees in the region of 100,000 outpatient cases. 800 serious burns cases are also treated at St Andrew’s each year.

St Andrew’s is a Supra unit, providing a specialist service across an area stretching from the Wash to the South Coast, dealing with an estimated adult population of 9 million and 20 million children. The centre is one of the biggest of its kind in Europe and in the last year innovative clinical research into burns and plastics has taken a giant step forward with the joining of the centre and Anglia Ruskin University in a partnership known as StAARS. This partnership promotes training and research and has three research fellows as well as many overseas consultants.

So here’s to the next 40 years for St Andrew’s. The world is certainly a very different place to the one where a small district hospital in Billericay delivered specialist burns and plastic surgery. But the hard work, clinical excellence, pride and enthusiasm in delivering these services hasn’t changed and the centre has grown and grown to this day where it rightly has a worldwide reputation for excellence.




Media contacts : Ian Lucking tel: (01245) 516729 | Mobile : 07775 777947

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