Burns survivor Katie Piper unveils UK's first specialist rehabilitation centre in St Helens
Burns survivor, author and philanthropist Katie Piper was the very special guest as St Helens made history as the home of a rehabilitation centre which is the first of its kind in the UK.
Ms Piper was at Fairfield Independent Hospital in the town for the unveiling of the live-in facility for people recovering from burns and scars.
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Her charity The Katie Piper Foundation has been working for years behind the scenes to make the facility a reality.
The centre had a low-key opening last year with the aim of treating 20 patients in its first 12 months, offering adapted bungalows on site for them to live in while receiving medical help.
Ms Piper said: "The rehabilitation centre has been a goal of mine and The Katie Piper Foundation since the very start.
"Developing this service with burns patients at its heart, has been a rewarding and challenging process but we’re finally at the finish line and we’re now ready to welcome patients.
"It’s a very big moment for myself, the team and the patients. It’s also a huge step forward for us as a charity.
"This charity is powered by the generosity of people and companies without any government funding so this is a huge milestone for me and everyone who has supported it. This year is the charity’s 10th anniversary which is a huge milestone, so it really does make this announcement that extra bit special."
Professor Kayvan Shokrollahi, consultant burns and plastic surgeon and medical director of The Katie Piper Foundation, said: "I see people every day with a wide range of injuries including house fires to occupational injuries, accidents and sometimes assaults, injuries that can happen to anyone.
"Our patients have sustained terrible injuries and have survived and reached the point of discharge from hospital, thanks to the fantastic care they have received in the NHS in the relatively small number of burns units in the UK.
"After discharge, burns survivors can now come to stay on site at this new and innovative rehabilitation centre based at Fairfield Independent Hospital to help rebuild their lives."
Live-in burns rehab is common in Europe but the St Helens facility is a pioneering step in Great Britain.
Fairfield Independent Hospital has over 45 years’ experience and is renowned for its physiotherapy team and tranquil grounds.
The charity hopes the centre will become a sanctuary for a patient’s next steps once they have been treated by the NHS burns services.
Care will range from scar management therapy techniques and physiotherapy to mental health support for those struggling with burns trauma..