Asbestos has been discovered in the roof space of Altnagelvin Hospital the ‘Journal’ can reveal. A fund of £1 million to assist development plans for the site was announced yesterday.
Asbestos, which is a serious health risk, is currently banned by the European Union but was in the past commonly used in the construction industry. The material was discovered in the roof of the tower block. A removal operation had been underway prior to the recent fire at the hospital but sources confirmed no workmen were present when the accidental blaze ignited. A Western Health and Social Care Trust (Western Trust) spokesperson confirmed: “All patient areas on the Altnagelvin Hospital site have been reopened with the exception of Wards 9 and 10. We can confirm that asbestos was being removed from the roof of the hospital prior to the recent fire incident as part of a planned on-going programme. As confirmed by the Health and Safety Executive Northern Ireland who visited the hospital after the fire, no members of the public or hospital staff were exposed to asbestos during this time.”
Meanwhile at the December Trust Board meeting yesterday (Thursday) further tributes were paid to the efforts of staff and the emergency services. Western Trust Chairman, Gerard Guckian said: “Our staff showed tremendous leadership and resilience during and after the incident. Staff have kept the hospital operational and worked tirelessly to limit any disruption to patient care. This is truly remarkable.”
Western Trust Chief Executive, Elaine Way said: “It has been almost two weeks since the fire incident occurred. Since then our main focus has been on ensuring patient care continues in a safe and comfortable environment. We have therefore secured additional funding of almost £1million to accelerate the planned rolling programme of development for the hospital site. Following confirmation that the fire was not as a result of the fabric of the building the Trust has decided to reopen Ward 8 for the care of patients who are mobile. This will be kept under review whilst the Trust continues with the wider rolling programme of developments for the Altnagelvin Hospital site.”