Pressure builds on health bosses to publish Muckamore report amid abuse probe

General view of Muckamore Abbey Hospital in Antrim. ''Picture by Jonathan Porter/PressEye
General view of Muckamore Abbey Hospital in Antrim. ''Picture by Jonathan Porter/PressEye

Pressure is mounting on health bosses over the continued refusal to publish a review of patient safety at a hospital for the severely learning disabled and mentally ill.

A major criminal investigation is ongoing into the alleged abuse of patients by staff at Muckamore Abbey Hospital in Co Antrim.

The Belfast Health and Social Care Trust commissioned a review of adult safeguarding at the facility, the findings of which were made known to families at the beginning of the week.

The review found that CCTV footage showed patients being harmed by staff while other staff did not speak out, along with a host of other failings.

The Trust’s continued refusal to publish the report — with information to identify patients redacted if necessary — has been roundly condemned by politicians from most of the major parties in Northern Ireland, alongside families of Muckamore patients.

The father of a severely learning disabled Muckamore patient, who has requested anonymity, said: “The Trust have been trying to hide behind patient confidentiality from the very beginning. But all they have to do is put a black line, or write ‘Patient A’ and ‘Patient B’.”

He added: “It is in the public interest — the national interest — that people are made aware of the systemic failures in adult safeguarding. Although this is the Belfast Trust, it has ramifications across every health Trust and every citizen in Northern Ireland.”

DUP MP Gavin Robinson said: “In terms of publishing the report, absolutely. The public is now engaged in this issue, they recognise the significant scale of the failure in letting down such vulnerable people, and the public are going to continue their quest for answers, transparency and accountability. The Trust needs to meet them on that.”

SDLP MLA Mark H Durkan said: “I am calling for a public inquiry so of course I believe the report should be published. It is in the Trust’s own interest, if they wish to dispel the public perception that they are covering up, downplaying or obfuscating what has happened.”

UUP MLA Roy Beggs said: “I would ask that the Serious Adverse Incident (SAI) report into the abuse at the Muckamore Abbey Psychiatric Intensive Care unit be urgently published.”

The News Letter has asked the Belfast Trust to explain its refusal to publish the review.

A spokesperson said: “SAI reports are not published. Belfast Trust has shared in confidence the Final Safeguarding Report on Muckamore Abbey Hospital with families of patients affected and the HSCB.

“We recognise there is a public interest in this and we have shared the recommendations of the report and a summary of the key themes in our media statement.”

MEETING WITH FAMILIES

A meeting between families of Muckamore Abbey Hospital patients and senior health officials, including Department of Health permanent secretary Richard Pengelly, is due to take place on Monday at the hospital.

Mr Pengelly is expected to apologise to families amid an ongoing criminal investigation into the abuse of patients by staff at the hospital.

Families have also told the News Letter a major announcement is expected from the Department of Health next week.