Britain’s longest serving burns nurse celebrates 40 years in the job | Latest news

Britain’s longest serving burns nurse celebrates 40 years in the job

A Wakefield Burns Nurse has recently celebrated a key 40 year milestone working in the Regional Adults’ Burns Centre at Pinderfields Hospital in Wakefield.

Colleen King, started her nursing career on 30 December 1974, before becoming a registered nurse four years later.

Ever since, she has dedicated her life to treating tens of thousands of burns patients, and is believed to be the longest serving burns nurse in the country.

Growing up, Colleen wanted to be either a Nurse or a Nun. Eventually, the frilly hat won over the habit, and she trained to be a Nurse at Pinderfields School of Nursing.

Colleen was offered a post in the Burns Unit (now known today as the Regional Adults’ Burns Centre) at Pinderfields Hospital, which was not her first choice of post, as she enjoyed Orthopaedic Nursing. Reluctantly she accepted the role.

Colleen was told by the Nursing Officer at the time, that if after three months she still didn’t want to stay on the burns unit she could move. Instead, as the shifts rolled on she became more and more comfortable working on the unit and even refused the offer to move to another department.

Colleen was a Nurse on the scene of the Bradford City Fire in 1985 and was also there when HRH Prince of Wales and Princess Diana visited the grounds. It was through this visit that Colleen and a colleague, along with the Chief Executive and Chairman of Pinderfields Hospital at the time, were invited to, and attended Diana’s funeral in 1997.

Throughout her career as a Burns Nurse, Colleen has seen a lot of changes, she says; “Lots more patients survive now, due to more developments in research, technology, even down to the dressings that we can now use and how soon surgery is performed. This has improved vastly from the 70’s, 80’s and even the 90’s. However, there is more documentation now – despite the use of computers we still have plenty of paperwork! There is a lot more emphasis on keeping your education up-to-date, as well as product and technological advances. Everything now is lot more evidence based.”

After working full time for almost 43 years Colleen took well deserved retirement in March 2017. However, unable to let go of her love of clinical work, she decided to return to work part-time, two days a week in the Regional Adults’ Burns Centre at Pinderfields Hospital.

David Melia, Director of Nursing at The Mid Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust, described Colleen as an “inspiration”.

He commented: “She exudes all of the qualities that a good nurse should possess and is a shining example of this Trust’s commitment to caring, excellent service.

“I am sure I speak for everyone at the Trust when I say we are incredibly grateful for Colleen’s continued dedication.

“We are so proud that she is a member of our staff and we hope she will continue to provide her nursing skills to the local community for many more years to come.”