Junior Minister Martina Anderson has praised the “dedication and enthusiasm” of the staff at Altnagelvin hospital, writes Michael McMonagle.
Ms Anderson was speaking after a visit to the hospital’s new south wing recently with fellow Foyle MLA Raymond McCartney, and Councillor Paul Fleming.
The group met with the Chief Executive of the Western Trust, Elaine Way, chairperson of the Trust, Gerard McGuckian, and other senior members of staff.
They were given a tour of the hospital’s facilities during the visit. The South Wing of the hospital was officially opened by Queen Elizabeth II at a ceremony last year.
Ms Anderson said: “We were very impressed by the dedication and enthusiasm of the staff at Altnagelvin Hospital. I think we are all indebted to the sterling work the staff carry out there.”
The junior minister also said the number of people using the hospital is likely to increase in the years ahead as it grows in size.
“The recent announcement that Altnagelvin is to get a new £28million hospital wing is welcome news indeed given the number of people who are now accessing it for treatment,” she said.
Ms Anderson said the hospital’s catchment area now includes people living across the border in Donegal.
“As a regional hospital Altnagelvin caters for people right across the North West including people from Derry, Donegal, Tyrone and Fermanagh. It provides a growing range of services including renal services so it is important that the capacity of the hospital grows at the same rate,” she explained.
The Foyle MLA said she hopes the new unit at the hospital will help secure jobs in the city.
“Over the past few years capacity at the hospital has been under pressure and this new wing will help relieve that pressure and allow more people to avail of treatment close to their homes. This extension will also help either to secure or create jobs,” she said.
A state-of-the-art satellite cancer centre will be built at Altnagelvin to cater for patients from both sides of the border, as well as a number of patients from the Northern Trust area. The announcement of the building of the cancer centre came after a long campaign, led by Derry cancer support group, The Pink Ladies.
The Irish government confirmed that it will honour its committment to part-fund the development of the cancer centre, despite the economic bailout package agreed with the European Union. The centre is likely to be operational by 2016.
The constriction of the hospital’s south wing was the largest building project to be carried out at Altnagelvin hospital since it opened in 1960.