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Muckamore Abbey Hospital Statement

24th September 2018

Today senior Trust staff met with families to discuss the findings and draft recommendations of the report commissioned by Belfast Trust into a Review of Safeguarding at Muckamore Abbey Hospital.

We want to place on record our sincere apologies to those patients and their families affected by staff behaviours which fell significantly below professional standards and were unacceptable.

An adult safeguarding investigation was initiated in September 2017, following reports of inappropriate behaviour and alleged physical abuse of patients by staff in two wards in Muckamore Abbey Hospital. These ongoing investigations are being carried out between the PSNI and Adult Safeguarding social workers.

We have taken decisive action, which included placing 13 members of staff on precautionary suspension. We are actively working on improving leadership and management arrangements at Muckamore Abbey Hospital, with the goal of ensuring that the voices of patients, family carers, advocates and others are clearly and effectively part of the future arrangements in Muckamore Abbey Hospital. A director oversight group led by the Director of Nursing and the Director of Adult, Social and Primary Care is in place.

Everyone has the right to be safe and free from harm. Safeguarding means having measures in place to protect human rights health and well-being, particularly for vulnerable people. In recognition of this, the Trust separately commissioned a fully independent team to undertake a review of the broader factors in Muckamore Abbey Hospital, to provide a clear picture as to what happened and to make recommendations on how to improve safeguarding.

The Review Team brought a wide range of experience perspectives and expertise as advocates, practitioners, clinicians, researchers and managers in service provision for people with learning disabilities and autism.

The findings of the Review Team highlighted that improvements are required in leadership and management, adult safeguarding approaches, advocacy, access to meaningful activities for patients and physical health care. We fully accept all the findings and we will now work to ensure these are delivered.

The report strongly urges the Trust and the wider health, social care and housing organisations to re-double their efforts to ensure that patients do not have to live in hospital environments. It recommends patients are enabled to live full lives in the community, with access to the right specialist multi-disciplinary support in the right accommodation.

The key recommendations are:

  • No one should have to live their lives out in hospital – the report recommends a renewed commitment to enabling people with learning disabilities and autism to have full lives in their communities
  • Deliver robust multi-disciplinary community services which recognise the full range of needs of people and families throughout their lives
  • Assessment and treatment units closer to home and effective long term quality accommodation options

We are committed to ensuring patients are cared for safely in Muckamore Abbey Hospital and we recognise and pay tribute to the many highly skilled and dedicated staff who remain working in Muckamore Abbey Hospital.

We wish to emphasise our commitment to openness and transparency to families and others in relation to sharing information appropriately. We are truly sorry that we have let our patients and their families down. Our priority now and in the future is to engage with the patients, families, staff, the DoH and the HSCB to deliver a future model of care for learning disability and autism.