The father of a patient at Muckamore Abbey has described his “never-ending nightmare” after police revealed they had identified 1,500 crimes at the hospital.
Glynn Brown, whose severely disabled son is a patient at the specialist Co Antrim facility, was speaking after the detective leading the police inquiry revealed 1,500 crimes have now been identified in relation to a single six-bed ward over a six-month period in 2017.
Detective Chief Inspector Jill Duffie, in an interview with the Irish News, said: “We’re concentrating at the moment on the incidents that happened in the Psychiatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU) and to date we’re investigating over 400 incidents.
“Within those 400 incidents, we’re looking at approximately 1,500 crimes. Largely this relates to physical abuse of the patients, wilful neglect of patients and inappropriate use of seclusion.”
Mr Brown, speaking to the News Letter yesterday, said: “You have to understand that unit only has six beds. When you put that figure in context, that it’s a unit with only six patients, it’s truly shocking.”
Families have been calling for a public inquiry into the abuse scandal at Muckamore for some time and those calls have been backed by each of Northern Ireland’s main political parties. Despite this, the Department of Health at Stormont told the News Letter its position on a public inquiry remains unchanged. In May, the department said establishing an inquiry is “a decision for a minister to take”.
Yesterday, Mr Brown issued a direct appeal to the public to “demand a public inquiry”.
“This is not an orange and green issue,” he said. “We need the public to demand justice for the most vulnerable. Remember, many of these people can’t speak for themselves. My son, for example, can’t speak at all. The public need to help us raise the thunderstorm to force them to concede that a full public inquiry must be launched.”
He continued: “This is the biggest adult safeguarding investigation in the UK – this is massive. Everyone has been shocked by what they’ve uncovered in one unit so this has yet to unfold. This is an unfurling, never-ending nightmare that is only going to get worse. Everyone, from the bottom right up to the top, needs to be held accountable.”
Solicitor Claire McKeegan, of Phoenix Law, is representing the families of those affected.
She told the News Letter: “Today I, on behalf of Action for Muckamore, have written to the permanent secretary (of the Department of Health) to ask him to reconsider his position. We can see that it’s now untenable.
“It’s absolutely shocking that in an adult safeguarding scandal of this magnitude, despite pressure from all the leaders of the top political parties who have all got behind the patients and their families, that the Department of Health are refusing to have a comprehensive investigation.”