Northern Ireland news

Muckamore Abbey Hospital: Two staff members suspended

Muckamore Abbey Hospital provides care to adults with intellectual disabilities and behavioural and mental health issues
Seanín Graham

TWO further members of staff have been suspended from Muckamore Abbey hospital in relation to abuse of vulnerable patients.

The Belfast health trust last night confirmed the development, which it said took place last Friday and related to archived CCTV footage.

This brings the total number of staff suspensions to 15 – the majority of whom are nurses.

Sources told the Irish News the abuse relate to the ‘Cranfield 1’ unit – an admissions ward - and was captured on CCTV at some point between March and September last year when staff were unaware the cameras were switched on.

It is understood to be “every bit as bad, if not worse” than the horrific abuse discovered on the Psychiatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU) during the same period, when patients were punched, kicked and dragged by the hair into bedrooms. Others were taunted and “left in the dark”without supervision.

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Three families of abused PICU patients who attended a meeting last night were also informed of the latest suspensions by Department of Health officials.

It is understood further suspensions could follow as police continue its massive investigation and assess the footage.

A Dundonald man, whose vulnerable son was punched in the stomach by a staff member, attended last night’s meeting and said he still wanted a public inquiry to take place into the scandal.

He said that families were allowed to see the new “revamped” seclusion facility after the previous one was closed down due to its “inhumane “ conditions.

The man’s 22-year-old son, who has the capacity of a two-year-old, was placed in seclusion 53 times in the space of three months last year.

He welcomed an apology from permanent secretary Richard Pengelly but added: “I haven’t changed my mind, we still need a full inquiry”.

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Mr Pengelly told relatives last night he was "both appalled and angered that vulnerable people were let down".

"No one should have to call Muckamore their home in future, when there are better options for their care – I am now confirming to the families that this will be the case," he said.

"That means Muckamore returns to being a hospital providing acute care, and not simply a residential facility."

During the meeting, Mr Pengelly also directly addressed the call from some of the families for a public inquiry.

"I want to take this opportunity to reassure the families that I have not ruled out any options regarding further scrutiny of the serious failings at Muckamore," he said.

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