Healthcare news

Mother of Muckamore patient 'haunted' by CCTV footage of him being attacked

A mother has said she is "haunted" by CCTV footage showing attacks on her son in Muckamore Abbey hospital. Picture by Ann McManus
Seanín Graham

CCTV images of a vulnerable young man being assaulted by a staff member at Muckamore Abbey hospital are "haunting" his mother.

The Dundonald woman has been undergoing counselling since she watched a recording showing her son raising his arms to shield himself as he was attacked in the Psychiatric Intensive Care Unit.

Police played footage of two incidents of abuse to her and her husband after they requested to see the tapes six months ago.

Her autistic son is 22 and has the mental capacity of a two-year-old. He has severe learning disabilities and is non-verbal.

Police are also asking families of other affected patients from the unit whether they want to view the footage.

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"What's killing me is that I saw my son holding his hands in the air and showing fear for the first time in his life - I had never seen him do that before. I haven't slept since. It is breaking my heart," the mother-of-four said.

"He was always so well loved and cared for in our house. In his 22 years he has never been afraid."

The young man was admitted to Muckamore last May when he was very ill and his family could no longer look after him at home.

"We couldn't control him and he had become very violent - he actually bit off the top of my thumb," his mother said.

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"But within weeks of getting him into Muckamore they completely changed his medication and he went back to being gentle and passive. He's as good as gold and we get him home three to four days a week.

"All the incidents in which he is attacked, he is shown to be completely passive.

"During one incident you can see a worker get him in a headlock and in another there is a problem with his trousers staying up and the staff member goes to grab him. That's when he tries to defend himself."

The woman said there was clearly a "culture" where the abuse of patients and failure to report it was "routine".

"I worked in a nursery school for over 20 years and know that if someone saw a child being abused they would report it immediately," she said.

"My son was attacked, thrown out of chairs, taunted and kept for hours in a horrific seclusion room - and no-one reported it."

The 22-year-old has been deemed fit for discharge but cannot be because no adequate care package exists for him in the community. His parents said he appears "terrified" when he has to return to the hospital after his days at home.

"We are getting him for seven days at Christmas. We can't wait," his father said.

More than 90,000 hours of footage have been viewed by a team of retired social workers and shared with police.

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