Muckamore Abbey: Long-term patients to move before 2020Ivy Madziva
Northern Ireland’s top health official has said vulnerable long-term patients at a scandal-hit hospital will be moved to other facilities by the end of 2019.
A review into the safety of adults with learning difficulties at Muckamore Abbey Hospital revealed that many lives were compromised.
It also confirmed that children had been physically and mentally abused.
Department of Health permanent secretary Richard Pengelly was “angered that vulnerable people were let down”.
- Report lists ‘catastrophic failings’
- Seclusion room ‘was dark dungeon’
- Health trust’s ‘deep regrets’ over abuse
Nine families were affected by the abuse at Muckamore Abbey Hospital in County Antrim; seven of them have been engaging with health officials.
Mr Pengelly met the families at the hospital on Monday and apologised to them.
Richard Pengelly was “angered that vulnerable people were let down” at Muckamore Abbey Hospital
He said it was “important to me to apologise to families face-to-face” for what happened.
The confidential report, seen by the BBC last week, detailed “appalling behaviours that fell well short of what is acceptable”, he said after the meeting.
‘Better options for care’
Mr Pengelly said he agreed with the views of the report’s authors, adding: “No-one should have to call Muckamore their home in future when there are better options for their care.”
He said he told the families that the facility would be returned to a “hospital providing acute care and not simply a residential facility”.
Alternative accommodation would have to be found for long-term patients.
Mr Pengelly said he expected them to be moved to other care facilities by the end of 2019.
That deadline would be “challenging”, he added, but the Department of Health “owes it to patients and their families to be demanding”.
Source: Belfast Health and Social Care Trust
The report listed a series of catastrophic failings and found there was a culture of tolerating harm at the facility.
Among the damning findings it authors made were:
- CCTV footage showed patients being harmed by staff – and staff did not speak out
- The use of the seclusion room was not monitored
- Patients were significantly likely to be harmed by peers
The mother of a severely-disabled man who was placed in the hospital’s seclusion room described it as “a dark dungeon”.
‘POLICE INQUIRY TAKES PRIMACY’
Thirteen members of the nursing staff have been suspended and two senior managers are off on long-term sick leave.
The report’s authors said it was “shattering that no-one intervened to halt the harm and take charge”.
Some of the families of the victims have called for a public inquiry into the abuse scandal.
Mr Pengelly said he told them during the meeting that he had “not ruled out any options regarding further scrutiny of the serious failings” at Muckamore Abbey Hospital.
But he added: “The ongoing police investigation clearly takes primacy over any other process at present.”
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