31/05/2002

Heroic hospital staff praised by Health Minister

Minister for Health, Social Services and Public Safety, Ms Bairbre de Brún, has praised the heroic work of staff who recently had to deal with a fire in Altnagelvin hospital.

At Altnagelvin, Ms de Brún praised the dedication and commitment of staff working throughout the hospital for the quality of services they provide to patients.

The Minister toured the wards affected by the recent fire, where she met staff on duty at the time of the incident and said: "I would like to pay tribute to the staff who worked tirelessly to ensure the safety of the 64 patients and visiting relatives, and averted a potential tragedy. This is what professional teamwork is all about. The actions of staff were indeed heroic. I am delighted to see that three of the wards affected are open again and that this has been achieved so quickly after the fire."

Undertaking a number of health service engagements in Derry, the Minister began the day by visiting Altnagelvin Hospital before she went to the Gas Yard Centre for the announcement of a new round of funding for health service programmes under the New Opportunities Fund.

Later in the day Ms de Brún visited the Derry Well Woman Centre where the Minister praised their achievements: "The extent of the services provided by Derry Well Woman through clinics, support groups, counselling, health promotion initiatives, complimentary therapies and research is truly impressive. They were the pioneers in the sense of a community articulating its own health needs and seeking to organise actions to address those needs."

The Minister concluded her day in Derry by launching a free telephone alert/information service for older people in the city. The service is a joint venture between NIACRO and the Galliagh Community Development Group.

Ms de Brún said: "Unfortunately recent events have shown that older people have been the victims of unscrupulous elements within our society and such events naturally cause anxiety to older people.

"This project aims to allay such fears, provide a sense of security and well-being to them and their relatives and let users know that in an emergency help is at hand."

Elderly residents in the Galliagh area will be contacted daily with information on events and services in the area.

If there is no response, friends and family will be contacted and if there is cause for concern the emergency services will be called.

(SP)

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