Concerns raised about staff safety at Muckamore Abbey Hospital
Staff at Muckamore Abbey Hospital have told how they feel forgotten and are working under extreme pressure.
The facility for those with mental health and other needs is currently at the centre of a major public inquiry.
Some staff at the Antrim-based hospital are alleged to have carried out physical and mental abuse as well as "wilful neglect" of vulnerable patients.
To date 38 people have been told they face prosecution over allegations of abuse at the hospital.
Worried remaining workers spoken to by The Irish News says wards are under-staffed while concerns have also been raised about their safety.
A nursing staff member last night said colleagues are regularly forced into taking time off due to injury or stress.
The Muckamore staff members spoken to by The Irish News say none of them have been suspended or caught up in either the ongoing PSNI investigation and public inquiry.
One hospital worker described having to work at Muckamore as "traumatising".
"People say, 'you need to leave' but you can't do those things until you have a job to go into," one worker said.
The care providers say that wards are regularly under staffed with the numbers often being made up by agency employees.
"Staff are fed up and frustrated and are at breaking point, they have had enough," one nurse said.
Staff members also spoke of the impact of the ongoing police investigation and inquiry, saying many are wary of intervening in incidents involving violent patients.
They say staff are regularly placed on 'safe guarding', or restricted duties, after encounters with patients.
A spokesman for the Belfast Trust said: "We appreciate that the current staffing arrangements at Muckamore are challenging and we continue to undertake ongoing recruitment exercises, including with the assistance of the wider health and social care system and the Department of Health, to fill vacant positions within nursing and nursing support, however this remains difficult due to the availability of suitable staff.
"We would like to thank all our staff including agency staff at Muckamore Abbey Hospital as, due to the number of vacant posts we currently have, without them we could not provide the level of care our patients require at this challenging time.
"Ensuring the safety of our patients and our staff remains our highest priority and this would not have been possible without the significant contribution of all our staff and we continue to provide support ."