No prosecutions as PPS await further evidence from police on Muckamore abuse allegations
THE Public Prosecution Service (PPS) last night confirmed that two files are currently "under investigation" in relation to allegations of "ill treatment" of patients at Muckamore Abbey hospital.
A PPS spokeswoman said that senior prosecutors "are awaiting further evidence from the PSNI before a decision can be taken".
"We will continue to liaise closely with police as its complex investigation into these and related matters progresses," she added.
The development comes almost three weeks after The Irish News first reported a major abuse probe at the facility close to Antrim town that had led to the suspension of 13 staff, the majority of whom are nurses.
CCTV footage dating back to last March shows staff allegedly striking vulnerable patients at Muckamore and pulling them to the floor by the hair.
- Father of patient 'punched in stomach' at Muckamore hospital demands action
Recordings apparently also show some patients being kneed in the testicles, while there are claims of 'unauthorised seclusion' and adults 'being left in the dark' without supervision.
Other mentally ill patients were said to be locked out and left alone in the Co Antrim grounds for "up to one hour" while footage also appears to show patients being 'dragged' into bedrooms.
Such is the scale of the crisis that agency nurses are being flown in from England to provide emergency cover at the facility near Antrim town, with the health service paying for them to stay at the nearby Dunadry four-star hotel.
Twenty-four hours after the article appeared, the Belfast health trust issued an "unreserved apology" to families and patients affected.
Red flag 'alert' letters have been issued by the Department of Health warning potential employers about eight Muckamore nurses, while there has been multiple referrals to the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) in London.
A police probe is ongoing.