Northern Ireland

Altnagelvin Hospital fire: Patients set to return

Scene at Altnagelvin
Image caption The fire broke out at Altnagelvin on Friday night

Most of the 120 patients moved from their wards at Londonderry's Altnagelvin Hospital during a fire on Friday night are to be returned.

The Western Trust has said an investigation is getting under way.

Seven wards had to be evacuated after a fire broke out on the roof of one of the buildings. Around 50 fire fighters worked to bring the blaze under control.

Health Minister Edwin Poots paid tribute to the staff.

"People went beyond the call of duty, through to the early hours of the morning, to ensure that everybody was taken good care of," he said.

"I want to express my thanks to the wonderful staff that we have in our health and social care system and in this instance in Altnagelvin in particular."

All planned operations due to take place on Saturday were cancelled.

Almost 50 fire fighters and 11 fire appliances dealt with the blaze, but it also resulted in water damage which spread down through several floors of the tower block.

In a statement, the Western Health Trust said that while most patients were accommodated in other parts of the hospital, a "small number" of patients were moved to other "appropriate health and care settings" in Londonderry.

It said one patient from the Fermanagh area was transferred to the South West Acute Hospital in Enniskillen.

The chairman of the trust, Gerard Guckian said all patients were "comfortable and safe".

He said the family and relatives of patients who had been relocated had been contacted by ward managers.

"I would like to thank all the emergency services and our staff who acted swiftly to bring the situation under control," said Mr Guckian.

The trust has set up helpline numbers for anyone concerned about the fire.

They are 028 7129 6202 and 028 7129 6204.

The SDLP Foyle MLA Pat Ramsey called for an "immediate inspection" of the building.

Just over two weeks ago, two wards in Altnagelvin were evacuated after a small fire broke out in an electrical switch room.

Twenty patients were moved to other parts of the hospital while 30 fire fighters brought the blaze under control on 6 November.

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