BUGS was conceived in Kathmandu, Nepal in 1998 when one of the Plastic Surgeons, the Unit Sister at the time, and the Specialist Physiotherapist were asked to spend time advising in the only Children's Burns Unit in Nepal. It was a salutary visit. They met many children with terrible burns. The isolation experienced by some of those children when they returned home to their hillside villages reminded the physiotherapist of observations she had made back in England, - that some people found it hard to reintegrate into their community after being discharged from the Unit. They felt isolated and missed the cocoon provided by the Unit.
Burns Unit staff at Salisbury District Hospital had previously tried to set up a support network which would ease the transition from hospital to home, attempts had failed. Although helpful links had been established with the Guinea Pig Club, a group of airmen who were burned during World War II and who supported each ever after.
In 1999 a support group for Salisbury District Hospital’s Burns Unit was founded. We called the group BUGS (Burns Unit Group Support) and became an official Charity in May 2000.
Initially BUGS planned to be an entirely independent charity. However, the Hospital Board Chairman at the time suggested that it would be better to be independent, but under the umbrella of the hospital. This has proved to have been a very helpful suggestion. The Hospital has gained an additional service, while BUGS is assured support for the lay volunteers, including training and insurance etc. The charity holds their own account within the hospital finance department, who act as auditors, so most of the money raised goes directly into care for people who have been burned.
In 2003, when Salisbury District Hospital began planning a new wing which would house a new Burns Unit as well as other wards, BUGS was asked to be involved as patient advocates. BUGS were very keen that patients recovering from a burn accident and who might be in hospital for many months, should have access to fresh air and a garden as well as a good view and a room where patients could find peace and quiet away from the ward area. Although the building project eventually chosen denied most patients the view and the garden, a Quiet Room was created and a very kind donor funded the furnishings and a mural. The move into the new Unit took place in May 2006. The volunteers were on hand to support the staff during the move.
Since conception BUGS has become well known amongst patients treated in Salisbury, and over time, across the large Wessex Region, through fairs, fetes and presentations. It is also becoming well known amongst other Burns Units.
Read about our 10th Anniversary Birthday celebrations (pdf)