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RCN demands findings of safeguarding review at learning disabilities hospital

College has made ‘numerous requests’ for details about Muckamore Abbey Hospital

College has made ‘numerous requests’ for details about Muckamore Abbey Hospital


Muckamore Abbey Hospital. Picture: Pacemaker

RCN Northern Ireland has reiterated its concerns for the staff and patients at a hospital that treats people with learning disabilities.

Muckamore Abbey Hospital in County Antrim has been the subject of an adult safeguarding investigation, initiated by Belfast Health and Social Care Trust in September last year, following reports of inappropriate behaviour and the alleged physical abuse of patients by staff in two wards.

Range of services

The hospital provides inpatient, assessment and treatment facilities for people with severe learning disabilities, mental health needs, forensic needs or who display challenging behaviour.

Thirteen members of staff, most of whom are nurses, have been suspended by the trust since November last year.

The trust set up an independent panel to review the standard of care, and has apologised ‘unreservedly’ to the patients and families affected. It has also reviewed archive CCTV footage from the hospital.

Vulnerable patients

RCN NI director Janice Smyth said: ‘The patients accommodated in Muckamore Abbey have complex needs and are among the most vulnerable in our society.

‘The RCN has serious concerns about the health and well-being of patients and staff at the hospital; about the adequacy and stability of the nursing workforce; the adequacy and continuity of care and treatment provided to patients; the support provided to learning disability nurses employed there; and about the handling of issues relating to safeguarding patients who have complex needs.’

Ms Smyth added that the findings of the independent review, which concluded in September, had not yet been shared with the RCN, despite ‘numerous requests’.

Workforce practice

A trust spokesperson said: ‘There is an ongoing process to review workforce practice and planning at Muckamore.

‘The trust has not yet received the final report from the chair of the independent review panel. When we receive this, it will be submitted to the Health and Social Care Board for review.’

A spokesperson for the Police Service of Northern Ireland said detectives from its public protection unit are investigating more than 70 reported incidents at the hospital, have interviewed three members of staff to date, and have submitted two files to the Public Prosecution Service for Northern Ireland.


Further information

Belfast Health and Social Care Trust statement regarding Muckamore Abbey Hospital


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