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Our health care staff went beyond call of duty

I AM writing to publicly thank our staff in the South Eastern HSC Trust for the efforts they made to maintain services during the recent extreme weather.

Clinical, administrative and support staff kept services in all our facilities running smoothly, our estates staff worked round the clock to deal with water and other weather-related problems and community staff refused to let the snow and ice deter them from reaching their clients. Our emergency planning arrangements worked well, but the response was enhanced by the commitment of all staff groups to helping the vulnerable who needed our services. I have visited as many staff as possible since the New Year and heard countless stories. Staff slept over in children's homes and hospitals to ensure they were there for early shifts.

Other nurses told me they walked to work, but it was 'only a mile or two'. One member of clinical staff braved a three-hour car journey through the snow. Yet another arrived at work on skis.

In the community, treatments and visits went ahead thanks to the resilience of staff. One nurse walked 14 miles in one day to do her rounds, while another enlisted the kind help of her husband to visit her patients by tractor.

Social work staff also went to similar lengths to ensure the weather didn't hinder efforts to protect children and the vulnerable.

I would also like to extend our thanks to a number of organisations who helped us during that time, including the Red Cross, which delivered water, and the Land Rover Club of Ireland, which offered their services to recover stranded vehicles and get vital clinical staff to work.

HUGH McCAUGHEY

Chief executive, South Eastern HSC Trust

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