Dozens more operations cancelled after Altnagelvin blaze
Two wards at Altnagelvin Area Hospital remain closed and at least 33 operations scheduled for today have been cancelled after a rooftop blaze caused flooding.
On Friday evening, there were chaotic scenes around the Londonderry hospital’s main tower block building, after a small fire broke out on the roof and 120 patients had to be rushed to safety.
There were no reports of any injuries and services at five of the seven evacuated wards have now returned to normal.
Patients from the remaining two wards damaged by flooding are being cared for in other parts of the hospital.
While some planned surgery will go ahead today, at least 33 procedures have been cancelled.
Affected patients will be contacted directly by hospital staff, a spokesman for the Western Trust said.
“Some planned surgery will go ahead,” he added.
The Western Health and Social Care Trust said Altnagelvin’s emergency services and visiting arrangements are operating as normal and that an investigation into Friday’s incident is under way.
Fire and Rescue Service group commander Edward Carroll said the fire was small but its location on the upper levels of the 11-storey building had warranted a large scale operation.
Health Minister Edwin Poots visited patients and staff at Altnagelvin where he paid tribute to staff for their efficient response to the major operation to move patients.
He said the Ambulance Service, police, 50 firefighters in 11 appliances, hospital staff and Translink drivers worked hard in difficult circumstances to ensure there was “as little upheaval as possible” to patients.
“I have seen how Western Trust staff have kept patient welfare and recovery as their first and most important priorities by making every effort to bring life back to normal,” Mr Poots said.
“The public reaction to the efforts of frontline workers responding to the blaze has been fantastic.
“These public servants give us all a reason to be proud.”
Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness and Londonderry Mayor Kevin Campbell also visited the hospital to inspect the damage and personally thank the emergency services for their response.
A dedicated helpline set up for relatives on Friday has now ended and any queries should be directed to Altnagelvin's main switchboard on 028 7134 5171.
This is the second small fire at Altnagelvin Hospital this month — although both led to significant disruption for patients. On the night of November 6, 20 patients were moved from the hospital after a small electrical fire broke out on the seventh floor of the tower block building.
In both fires, emergency procedures appear to have worked well. The acute hospital, based on the Glenshane Road, is currently undergoing a major redevelopment programme.