The challenges of delivering burns care in regional Queensland

Mrs Michelle Parkinson1

1Townsville University Hospital, Queensland Health, Townsville, Australia


Townsville University Hospital sees a diverse range of paediatric burns presentations from across North Queensland. These patients are cared for by the North Queensland Paediatric Burns Service (NQPBS). With the paediatric cohort coming from communities covering a service area of more than 780000km, the team faces many challenges when delivering care.

Challenge 1: Delivering culturally appropriate care to our first nations children

26% of presentations to the NQPBS are from our first nations paediatric cohort. The team utilises the knowledge and cultural guidance of our Indigenous Health Liaison Officers (IHLO) to create a connection to healing whilst ensuring our families are well supported and feel culturally safe throughout their journey.

Challenge 2: No dedicated burns funding.

Despite being the tertiary referral centre for North Queensland, there is no funding for paediatric burns at Townsville University Hospital. Recently the NQPBS re-joined BRANZ and continues to undertake service development initiatives examining pathways for funding.

Challenge 3: Delivering care that is closer to home.

With all presentations to NQPBS coming from regional (82%), remote (9%) or very remote (9%) areas, our team aims wherever possible to keep children in their home locations. A constant feedback loop between NQPBS and local clinicians has been established ensuring the best clinical care without the need for the child to come to Townsville. This includes an email referral and progress update system, 24-hour contact with our surgical teams and a weekly multidisciplinary case conference. When a child is transferred to Townsville, it is usually for surgical intervention.


Michelle has worked as a paediatric nurse for over 10 years at Townsville University Hospital. During this time she has worked with a small team of dedicated paediatric clinicians as part of the NQ Burns team. This team delivers burns care to rural, remote and regional North Queenslanders from Sarina in the south, to the Torres Strait in the north and west to the NT/Qld border.

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