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UK’s longest serving burns nurse celebrates 40 years in job

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A Wakefield nurse, who is described by her trust as a “shining example”, has recently celebrated a key 40-year milestone working in the regional adults’ burns centre at Pinderfields Hospital.

Colleen King started her nurse training on 30 December 1974 at Pinderfields School of Nursing and became a registered nurse four years later.

“Lots more patients survive now, due to developments in research, technology, even down to the dressings”

Colleen King

She was offered a post in the burns unit – now known as the regional adults’ burns centre – at Pinderfields Hospital, but noted this was not her first choice of post, as she enjoyed orthopaedic nursing.

Reluctantly, she accepted the role and was told by the nursing officer at the time that, if after three months, she still did not 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, said Ms King. As a result, she is now believed to be the longest serving burns nurse in the country.

She was a nurse on the scene of the Bradford City football stadium fire on 11 May 1985, in which 56 people were killed and at least 265 were injured.

“She exudes all of the qualities that a good nurse should possess and is a shining example”

David Melia

She was also there when HRH Prince of Wales and Princess Diana visited the hospital to meet those being treated in the wake of the fire, leading to her being one of a small group from Pinderfields that attended Diana’s funeral in 1997.

Throughout her career as a burns nurse, Ms King noted that she had seen a lot of changes. “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,” she said.

“This has improved vastly from the 70s, 80s and even the 90s,” she said. “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,” she added.

Mid Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust

UK’s longest serving burns nurse celebrates 40 years in job

Colleen King celebrating her 40 year career with a cake

After working full time for almost 43 years and by that time a sister, Ms King took retirement in March last year. 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 burns centre at Pinderfields Hospital.

David Melia, director of nursing at the Mid Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust, described Colleen as an “inspiration”. He said: “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,” said Mr Melia.

“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,” he added.

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