Muckamore: Damning report on hospital abuse revealed

Families of Muckamore Abbey Hospital patients have criticised the lack of progress in relation to police and health service investigations into abuse allegations. Picture Mal McCann.
Seanín Graham

A CULTURE in a Northern Ireland hospital that was "shaped by the use of power" gave way to mentally ill adults being physically abused by staff, a confidential report has revealed.

Concerns about nepotism - with many staff related to each other and "fearful of grassing" - at Muckamore Abbey hospital, close to Antrim town, are also contained in the explosive review that concludes the lives of patients with severe learning disabilities were "compromised".

Disturbing details of patients "lying on the floor and being kicked", of others being kneed in the groin and "dragged by the hair" are outlined alongside staggering failings of hospital managers who dismissed families' concerns.

Missing files, as well as "cut and paste records" of patients placed in an unmonitored seclusion room "were not challenged" by health service chiefs or the health service watchdog, the Regulation and Quality Improvement Authority (RQIA).

The Irish News first reported the scale of the allegations in July, after a whistleblower raised the alarm about CCTV images of ill treatment of patients by healthcare professionals, including physical abuse and cruelty, on a Psychiatric Intensive Care Unit.

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Management and nursing staff did not realise the cameras were recording. To date, 13 staff - mainly nurses - have been suspended while the National Crime Agency has been appointed to assist the PSNI in its ongoing probe.

The father of one patient, who has the capacity of a two-year-old, last night repeated his calls for a public inquiry as 43 'incidents' of staff mistreating his son have now been captured on CCTV. He was initially assured it was a "one-off".

The man welcomed the report - ordered over a year ago - but raised concerns that the expert team only viewed "20 minutes of the CCTV footage". He fears the abuse "may be worse".

"The police told me less than a fortnight ago that the Muckamore case is much worse than Winterbourne View which led to six people being jailed. Files vanished at Muckamore - I want the perpetrators made accountable from the top down," he said,

The Belfast trust has issued an unreserved apology to families and patients affected.

Timeline: How The Irish News broke the story of the scale of abuse

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