Nurse abuse claims: RCN ‘would support’ public inquiry as police probe continues

College points to lack of nurse staffing, supervision and support at Muckamore Abbey Hospital

College highlights lack of nurse staffing, supervision and support at Muckamore Abbey Hospital

Picture: Google

A public inquiry into allegations of abuse of service users by nurses and other staff at Muckamore Abbey Hospital should be held, the RCN says.

Police are reviewing more than 300,000 hours of CCTV footage, which they say have so far yielded evidence of 1,500 potential crimes on one ward at the mental health hospital for people with learning disability in county Antrim, Northern Ireland.

Nurses suspended over claims of patient mistreatment

A total of 20 staff, mostly nurses, have now been suspended by Belfast Health and Social Care Trust over claims of patient mistreatment.

Now RCN Northern Ireland director, Pat Cullen, says the college would support a public inquiry into care standards at the hospital.

Pat Cullen, RCN Northern Ireland director

‘I have raised serious concerns about the lack of adequate nurse staffing and supervision and support for nurses working in Muckamore Abbey Hospital,’ she said.

'The RCN has previously written to the Department of Health requesting an independent review be initiated. However, given the scale of the serious issues that have now come to light, the RCN would fully support a public inquiry as a matter of urgency.'

Allegations of inappropriate behaviour and physical abuse

An adult safeguarding investigation was initiated by Belfast Health and Social Care Trust in September 2017 following reports of inappropriate behaviour and alleged physical abuse of service users by Muckamore Abbey staff.

A specialist team was then set up by the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) in 2018 to investigate allegations and review CCTV footage.

Detective chief inspector Jill Duffie, of the Police Service of Northern Ireland public protection branch, said: ‘We will continue to work through the CCTV minute by minute to ensure nothing is missed and that we get a full picture of what exactly happened,’ she said.

A spokesperson for the Belfast trust said: ‘We appreciate this continues to be a very difficult time for our patients and their families and we are fully co-operating with the PSNI investigation.’

Department of Health permanent secretary Richard Pengelly said the question of a public inquiry would be decided once the police investigation is complete.

Muckamore Abbey Hospital assesses and cares for people with severe learning disabilities who have mental ill health including forensic needs.

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