Health Minister meets staff and volunteers on Rathlin Island

Health Minister Robin Swann has praised the work of health and social care staff, firefighters and community representatives who support residents of Rathlin Island.

The Minister visited the island where he met members of the Rathlin Development & Community Association (RDCA) as well as the local nursing team and volunteer firefighters.

Minister Swann said: “I was delighted to visit Rathlin Island and to have the chance to meet with some of the RDCA Committee and those engaged in the care and development of the community, to hear more about the health and social care services provided here.

“There have been enormous pressures on health and social care staff throughout the pandemic and I am grateful for the efforts of all those involved in the delivery of health and social care services on Rathlin Island, in particular the nursing team. I know that the community appreciate the dedicated service of the nursing team and the unique holistic, person-centred service they provide.

The Minister with island nurses Kiera McKillop and Jackie Devine

“I have had the opportunity to hear the experiences of the residents and have been impressed by how the community here rallied together through the challenges of the pandemic and how people continue to work to support each other, particularly to combat social isolation and loneliness. It has also been very worthwhile to hear the residents’ aspirations towards wellbeing.”

The Rathlin Island Nursing service is on call 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, for clinical interventions, attendance at emergency call outs and providing confidential help, support and advice to the islanders. The provision of nursing services on the island is managed by the Northern Health and Social Care Trust. GP services on the island are provided by a practice in nearby Ballycastle, through clinics for the management of long term chronic conditions, winter influenza vaccinations and other immediate necessary treatment.

Nurse Katrina Kelly, [email protected] “As the Causeway Locality Manager for Community Care and Lead Nurse I very much welcome the Minister’s visit to Rathlin Island. Rathlin is a rural community and as such, we are committed to ensuring that we meet the needs of the population. We appreciate the opportunity to promote the services provided by the NHSCT with particular focus on the health and well-being of those living on the island.”

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Minister with Michael Cecil and David Quinney-Mee Rathlin Development and Community Association

Michael Cecil, Chair of the Rathlin Development and Community Association, said: “I was delighted to welcome Minister Swann to Rathlin on behalf of the community. This was an opportunity for the minister to learn more about health, social and emergency provision on the Island and meet some of the staff involved. We look forward to co-coordinating with our partners in Health and Social Care to further strengthen the excellent level of care provided on the Island to residents and visitors, with a view to Rathlin being an exemplar in holistic health and social care provision.”

The Minister also visited the Rathlin Island Rescue Station where he met volunteer firefighters from the Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service (NIFRS). Currently there are seven Firefighters and two Crew Commanders who live and work on the island. The station is the first of its kind in the UK to operate as a joint Rescue Station between a Fire and Rescue Service and the Maritime Coastguard Agency (MCA).

The Rathlin Island Floating Support Service, provided by two staff who live on the island, helps provide support for older and more vulnerable residents. It aims to promote social inclusion and support people to live independently and safely in their own home. The NIFRS fire appliance is bespoke to Rathlin as the narrow lanes and tight corners make a mainland appliance impractical for use on the island. The most common calls are for assistance to the nursing team and the Maritime Coastguard Agency, smoke alarms sounding in domestic premises and gorse fires.

Minister Swann said: “I am hugely impressed with how Rathlin Island Rescue Station plays such a pivotal role in keeping the local community safe, with volunteer firefighters working in close partnership with the district nurse and the Maritime and Coastguard Agency as well as with their colleagues in Coleraine Fire and Rescue Service, I wish to commend the volunteer firefighters for giving up their time and for risking their lives when required to tackle fires and other incidents on the island. It is reassuring to know that we have such a well-trained and capable fire and rescue crew here to protect and serve both the residents and the many tourists who visit the island each year.”