Northern Ireland news

Female employee at scandal-hit Muckamore Abbey Hospital assaulted by intruder

The woman was assaulted at Muckamore Abbey Hospital early yesterday morning. Picture Mal McCann

A MEMBER of staff at the scandal-hit Muckamore Abbey Hospital has been assaulted by an intruder.

The Belfast Trust said the woman had been left "shaken" by the ordeal, which happened at around 4am yesterday.

Sinn Féin health spokesperson Pat Sheehan last night said the attack "raises more concerns about safety within the facility".

In a statement, Belfast trust said it could "confirm that a member of staff was assaulted at Muckamore Abbey Hospital this morning (Thursday) by an intruder."

"The staff member, although shaken, is recovering well and we will continue to provide them with support," she said.

"This incident took place away from patient areas and no patient was in any way harmed or involved in this incident.

"The safety of our patients and staff remains our highest priority and while Muckamore is an open site like all of our hospitals, we have increased our security as a precautionary measure.

"We know this is a very difficult time for our staff working in Muckamore who are delivering safe care under very challenging circumstances. We will not tolerate any incidents like this.

"The PSNI have been informed and we are working closely with them to support our staff."

Mr Sheehan said the assault was "unacceptable and a real concern for staff and their families".

"It can be a challenging and physical environment and unfortunately many staff members are being asked to work in stretched wards which is greatly impacting on the ability to provide safe care," he said.

"Recently the Regulation and Quality Improvement Authority issued the Belfast trust with three improvement notices relating to Muckamore and one of those focused on safe staffing levels.

"Sinn Féin has also raised concerns around safe staffing levels with the Belfast trust and will be doing so again.

"High quality services, especially those for some of the most vulnerable in society, require staff that are well led, resourced and held to account for their actions.

"The Belfast trust needs to state clearly and publicly, if it is able to provide the level of care needed for patients within Muckamore Abbey Hospital and how it plans to address the ongoing challenges."

It comes just days after the Irish News revealed that CCTV footage viewed by police showed 1,500 crimes being committed on a single ward at the hospital.

Twenty staff, most of whom are nurses, have been suspended from the facility by the Belfast Trust following allegations of assault and inflicting cruelty on adults with a severe learning disability in 2017.

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