Northern Ireland news

Muckamore patients and families invited to help shape Public Inquiry

Muckamore Abbey Hospital, Co Antrim Picture by Mal McCann.

HEALTH Minister Robin Swann has invited patients and families to contribute to the terms of reference of the Public Inquiry into abuse at Muckamore Abbey Hospital.

He announced in September that the investigation will take place and and said then families and patients would be given the opportunity to influence the remit and scope of the inquiry into an abuse scandal at the hospital.

Last week some families had expressed "bitter disappointment" at being refused a meeting with the minister to discuss the terms of reference and chair for the landmark inquiry

Relatives of vulnerable patients who allegedly suffered serious physical abuse and mental cruelty by healthcare staff at the Co Antrim facility have formed pressure group Action for Muckamore (AFM) and led the campaign for a public inquiry for over two years.

Mr Swann said a meeting was not necessary as he would be setting out arrangements "to engage with them to hear their views on the scope and remit of the inquiry".

He has now invited families and patients, both current and former, to a series of engagement meetings arranged by the Patient Client Council and also making arrangements for people to provide views "in writing or on a one-to-one basis, if that is their preference".

"While the Public Inquiry will not be able to undo the shocking events of the past, I hope that it will help provide patients and families with the answers they need and deserve.

"I appreciate that this will be a difficult process and that people may have concerns about whether their relative was subject to any abuse during the time they spent in the hospital."

Fourteen arrests have been made in what is the biggest criminal investigation of its kind in Northern Ireland with 1,500 suspected crimes discovered in one ward between April and September 2017.

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