Northern Ireland

Former Muckamore patient felt treatment was complete 'a long time before I left', inquiry told

Antrim's Muckamore Abbey Hospital is the focus of a major public inquiry into the alleged abuse of patients.
Antrim's Muckamore Abbey Hospital is the focus of a major public inquiry into the alleged abuse of patients.

A FORMER patient at Muckamore Abbey has told the inquiry into abuse at the Antrim mental health facility that his treatment was complete "a long time before" he was discharged after 11 years.

The man told Tuesday's hearing of his experiences during his stay at Muckamore, including seeing a staff member grab a patient by the throat during a row over Rangers and Celtic soccer teams.

Referred to as P76 to protect his identity, the man, who has a mild learning disability, was admitted to the Belfast Health Trust-run hospital in 1998 and finally discharged in 2011.

He told the inquiry he eventually contacted the Law Centre NI and an advocacy service as his resettlement process "was taking so long".

"I became so frustrated that I told the nurses and a doctor that I would just walk out and never come back," he said.

"I feel my treatment was complete a long time before I left Muckamore. I believe there are a number of patients who are there too long."

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The former patient added he believed Muckamore Abbey "should be shut down".

He described the care by some staff at the hospital as professional and of a good standard, but spoke of the mistreatment of patients by other staff members.

P76 said he was kicked in the stomach at one stage, while another time he was "dragged" to a seclusion room.

He said he felt he was unable to complain "because I wouldn't be believed". He described how a complaint he had made over the treatment of another patient led to no action being taken that he was aware of.

During another stay at the seclusion room, he said he was held for eight hours and was forced to urinate in a corner as he was denied visits to the bathroom.

The room was "like a cell" as "there was no fresh air and no windows".

He added: "It was disgusting and smelt like urine."

Now the father of a young girl, the former patient said he is preparing to get married.

"I'm just looking forward to the future, to putting this Muckamore thing behind me. After today, its gone," he added.

Evidence from former patients at the inquiry is due to conclude on October 9 before members of staff will give evidence the following week.

Inquiry chair Tom Kark KC told the hearing the process faces a "significant delay" as a result of judicial inquiry proceedings being launched by the relative of a former patient.