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Final Safeguarding Report on Muckamore Hospital shared with families of patients

11th December 2018

Belfast Trust shares Final Safeguarding Report on Muckamore Abbey Hospital with families of patients.

Following receipt of the final report of the expert independent team reviewing safeguarding at Muckamore Abbey Hospital, the service Director of the Trust alongside the independent Chair of the Review Team, have this week met individually with the families of those affected to share and discuss the report with them. The Trust had previously met with families in late September to discuss the findings and recommendations of the draft version of the report. At each meeting with the families this week, Belfast Trust again wholly and unreservedly apologised for the unacceptable behaviour of some members of staff, which is a matter of profound regret.

The review was commissioned by Belfast Trust following reports of inappropriate behaviour and alleged physical abuse of patients by staff in two wards in Muckamore Abbey Hospital which led to adult safeguarding investigations begun in September 2017. The PSNI led Adult Safeguarding investigation is live and on-going. The Trust is completely supportive of and is co-operating fully with the PSNI investigation but cannot comment on it. As has been previously indicated, Belfast Trust has placed a number of members of staff on precautionary suspension.

The findings of the final report – which the Trust fully accepts, highlighted that immediate improvements are required first and foremost in putting family carers and advocacy central within governance structures, in leadership and management, in adult safeguarding approaches, access to meaningful activities for patients, and physical health care. The report also commented on the appropriate use of seclusion. The Trust’s seclusion policy in relation to Muckamore Abbey Hospital is currently under review by a multi-disciplinary team, which will fully engage with patients, carers and staff.

The report also 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 and they are enabled to live full lives in the community with access to the right specialist multi-disciplinary support in the right accommodation.

The final report also points towards a new model of care for those with learning disabilities and autism, across Northern Ireland, recommending that:

  • No one should have to live their lives out in hospital – a renewed commitment to enabling people with learning disabilities and autism to have full lives in their communities is required
  • Robust multi-disciplinary community services which recognise the full range of needs of people and families throughout the life course must be delivered
  • Assessment and treatment units should be closer to home allied with effective long-term quality accommodation options

Marie Heaney, Director of Adult, Social and Primary Care commented, ‘The Trust fully accepts this Report and all its recommendations and we have not waited for the final Report to be made available to us before acting. Much has been done to improve the 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 there. A director oversight group led by myself and the Director of Nursing is in place and the Trust is whole-heartedly committed to ensuring all the recommendations are realised and we welcome ongoing scrutiny

Brenda Creaney, Executive Director of Nursing and User Experience, added, ‘To those patients, and their families currently using services in Muckamore, I am deeply and wholeheartedly sorry about the behaviour of some staff. I want to assure them that the Belfast Trust remains committed to ensuring that every patient is cared for safely in Muckamore Abbey Hospital and we recognise and pay tribute to the many highly skilled and dedicated staff who work there. The Trust’s priority now is to engage further with the staff, families, patients, the DoH and the HSCB in the work already initiated through the Health Transformation programme to design and deliver a future model for learning disability services in Northern Ireland.’