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Belfast Trust 'suppressed' details of abuse scandal at Muckamore Abbey hospital

A couple have raised serious concerns about their son's treatment at Muckamore Abbey hospital in Co Antrim. Picture by Ann McManus
Seanín Graham

DETAILS of an abuse scandal at Muckamore Abbey hospital were "suppressed" by the Belfast health trust, The Irish News can reveal.

Private notes of a meeting between Department of Health chiefs and a parent whose son was assaulted show that the department was not kept informed of the seriousness of the crisis.

In a special report - five months after The Irish News revealed the unprecedented scale of an investigation into the abuse of vulnerable patients by staff - we expose how:

- The mother of a young patient is "haunted" by CCTV footage which showed her terrified son being abused.
- An "inhumane" seclusion room at the hospital, compared to jail by angry parents, is to be removed.
- The most senior NHS officials in Northern Ireland were initially unaware of the crisis because information was "being contained in Muckamore" and was not passed on to the department by the trust.
- An NHS chief described abuse in the hospital as "systemic" and said information initially provided by the Belfast trust was "not a reflection of the reality".
- The department might not have known the scale of abuse had it not received a tip-off from a parent whose son was punched in the stomach last August.
- The same parent described getting answers about his son's care as like "pulling teeth".
- The department's permanent secretary, Richard Pengelly, is expected to apologise and announce an independent inquiry when he meets patients' families on Monday night.

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