Northern Ireland news

Total of 40 staff now suspended from Muckamore

Muckamore Abbey Hospital in Co Antrim is regional facility for adults with severe learning disabilities.
Seanín Graham

FOUR more staff members have been suspended from the scandal-hit Muckamore Abbey Hospital - bringing the total number to 40.

The Belfast health trust last night confirmed the latest "precautionary suspensions" at the Co Antrim facility took place in the past week and are linked to the ongoing PSNI investigation into alleged ill treatment of vulnerable patients.

Detectives made their third arrest on Monday, when a 33-year-old man was detained in the Antrim area. He was released on police bail the following day.

No charges have been made to date in what police say is the biggest adult safeguarding probe of its kind, with a specialist PSNI team viewing 300,000 hours of CCTV footage from wards.

Earlier this month The Irish News revealed nursing resignations and retirements at the hospital have soared, with almost 40 staff departures since January.

Families of patients have expressed fears about the facility's future due to the "haemorrhaging" workforce and called on management to urgently address the crisis.

It is understand that a 15 per cent pay rise incentive being offered to nurses in other health trusts to temporarily work in the hospital has met with a poor response.

Glynn Brown, whose son Aaron is a patient at Muckamore, said the severe staffing shortage was placing huge pressures on the current workforce.

"These figures paint a bleak picture and you have to ask how any organisation could withstand this haemorrhaging of its nurses," he said.

The Belfast trust has repeatedly apologised for the distress caused by the abuse investigation, with chief executive Martin Dillon insisting they had worked "tirelessly" " to ensure existing care is "safe and compassionate".

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