In the late fifties and sixties burns centres were created in an attempt to co-ordinate the treatment of these severely ill patients. Knowledge rapidly increased which initially found more problems than solutions. In 1971, a symposium “The place of the Anaesthetist in the Treatment of the Burnt Patient” was held at the Queen Victoria Hospital, East Grinstead, organised by the two founding fathers, Dr. Russell Davies and Dr. Stuart Laird, after whom the Society’s free paper prize is named. The first of its kind, it was attended mainly by anaesthetists with some surgeons and physicians confirming the role of the Anaesthetist and the multidisciplinary nature of the clinical problem. Future meetings were organised on a biennial basis, incorporating anaesthesia for plastic surgery in 1978 at Chepstow. Since these early days the society has become more formalised and meets annually, but has retained the original aim of creating a forum for clinicians of different disciplines working in this challenging area.
The principal role of the society has thus been set out by this brief historical review. Further development of these aims will continue by forming liaisons with other similar groups both at home and overseas. Thus, contact is being established with the British Association of Plastic Surgeons (BAPS), the British Burns Association (BBA) and thence the European Burn Association. We are also seeking to form links with anaesthetic groups in Europe involved in plastic surgery. We are very willing to collaborate in joint meetings on a biennial basis with others having shared interests, and have met in recent years with the Association of Dental Anaesthetists (ADA) and BAPS. Many of our members are also members of the BBA, the ADA and the Difficult Airway Society.
The Association is able to draw on a significant pool of experience in this field, and to offer advice to relevant organisations which might include the Royal College of Anaesthetists and Association of Anaesthetists. The Society recently submitted a syllabus to the Royal College of Anaesthetists for this aspect of anaesthesia training. The Society also contributes to the Advanced Course in Plastic Surgery and Burns, organised by BAPS. With an increasing requirement to move patients from receiving hospitals to specialist centres, consideration is being given to formulating advice on the preparation and transport of these patients.
Finally in the field of research, there are a number of collaborative areas where the Anaesthetist can make a significant contribution. The effects of anaesthesia and fluid management of the survival of free grafts and research into induced hypotension are examples of areas of interest. In conclusion the aims of the Association remain as they were originally established 24 years ago. However in future they will flourish further by forging links with other disciplines both at home and abroad.
The ABRA was formerly known as the PSBA [Plastic Surgical & Burns Anaesthetists]. It was renamed following the meeting in Oxford in 2000 in order to maintain and strengthen the original aims of the Society to provide a forum for discussion for clinicians working in this area. With changes in surgical practice, it was felt appropriate to widen the appeal of the Society to include clinicians working in associated subspecialities but carrying out similar procedures.