Northern Ireland

Inquiry hears of family's concern for safety of long-term Muckamore Abbey patient

Muckamore Abbey Hospital.
Muckamore Abbey Hospital.

A CURRENT patient at Muckamore Abbey suffered 26 assaults by another patient in the space of two years, his sister has told the public inquiry into abuse at the Co Antrim hospital.

The 56-year-old patient, known as Brian, has severe learning difficulties and is non-verbal, and has been a patient at Muckamore for more than three decades.

His sister Bridgin told Wednesday’s inquiry hearing that Brian has also suffered as a result of a lack of supervision and overmedication during his time at the facility.

She said it was difficult to trust that her brother was safe at the hospital, which is located in Antrim and operated by the Belfast Health Trust.

Bridgin said Brian lived at their family home in Ballycastle until he was 21, and was admitted to Muckamore when his behaviour became more challenging.

The family arranged for a relative to visit Brian every day at Muckamore, where Bridgin said her brother’s difficult behaviour was made worse, and he was affected by issues including changing wards and the turnover of staff.

She said that had her mother known that Brian would remain in the hospital, she would not have let him go.

Brian was said to have suffered 26 assaults by another patient between 2013 and 2014, and had injuries that could not be explained by hospital staff.

Brian also injured himself through banging his head against a door after he was said to have been accidentally locked in a room in 2021.

He also injured himself last year after being left unsupervised for two hours

Bridgin said her brother had on another occasion been allowed to walk naked through his ward before being stopped at a main door.

Another incident involved a member of staff who was later dismissed after he had been seen pulling down Brian’s trousers and underwear.

The inquiry continues.