Despite more than a million people in the UK experiencing a fracture each year, for many years orthopaedic casting was not viewed as a specialist field. Traditionally the practice was simply dealt with ‘on the job’ with no formal qualification in place. Somewhat surprisingly it wasn’t until 1982 that a dedicated course was set up to train plaster technicians.
Today, the British Casting Certificate is still the only nationally recognised qualification in the field. It is available only to those who have a minimum of one year’s experience in casting application, so that element of practical training ahead of more specialised study still remains.
The course was first established as a result of the efforts of Sue Miles, who instigated the course after qualifying as an Orthopaedic Nurse at the Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital. Sue initially drafted the plans for the course as part of her nursing studies, which then came to the attention of the surgeons at the British Orthopaedic Association. The surgeons were concerned about the poor level of casting skills throughout the country, and worked with Sue using her plans to establish the first course which ran in September 1982.
Today the British Casting Certificate consists of a five week training course at The Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital at Stanmore, with regional day release and refresher courses taking place across the country.
We first began working with the team at Stanmore in 1996, after Dennis Byers, the then Chairman of the Association of Orthopaedic Practitioners suggested we get in touch with Sue Miles. We’d attended a conference for the AOP at which our LimbO product has been very favourably received. Subsequently Dennis felt the Stanmore students would benefit from being introduced to a waterproof protector. The LimbO could help ensure any casting efforts were not compromised when patients needed to wash whilst at home.
Since that first presentation at Stanmore, Thesis has worked hard to support the course as part of what is now a longstanding partnership. The courses’ practical nature means places are limited and costs higher than for those which are theory based. As a result we devised a method of supporting plaster teams financially through a sponsored approach which can then be used for training and development. Our hospital donation scheme has, to date, raised more than £20,000 for training and development of those in the profession.