Page last updated at 15:27 GMT, Monday, 10 November 2008

Patient files damaged in a fire

surgery fire
The fire at the surgery was discovered on Sunday evening

Thousands of patient files have been damaged in a fire at a County Down doctor's surgery.

The fire started on Sunday evening at Pound Lane in Downpatrick.

It is estimated that up to 6,000 files may have been damaged. The health trust said patients' details were kept on computer and regularly backed-up.

"We're trying to let clients know what is happening and when we can get services up and running to them again," said GP Hugh McGoldrick.

Police forensic teams have searched to try to establish the cause of the fire.

Local photographer Gerard Smyth, who witnessed the blaze, said the building was still standing but the interior was badly damaged.

"Quite a lot of doctors and other staff were at the scene - one of their main concerns was that patients' records may have been lost in the fire," he said.

The surgery is operating an emergency service at nearby premises. It is hoped the surgery will be fully functional on alternative premises shortly.

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