Staff suspended as mistreatment of psychiatric patients caught on CCTV

A number of staff at Muckamore Abbey Hospital have been suspended amid allegations of mistreatment of patients
A number of staff at Muckamore Abbey Hospital have been suspended amid allegations of mistreatment of patients

Staff at a specialist psychiatric unit in Co Antrim have been suspended after video footage of patients being mistreated emerged.

The Belfast Trust has confirmed that a “further number of staff” at Muckamore Abbey Hospital have been suspended, following the suspension of four staff in November last year as part of a a probe involving the trust and the PSNI which had, at that time, been ongoing for a number of months.

Police confirmed to the News Letter that the investigation is still ongoing.

The Belfast Trust has not released the CCTV footage or revealed any details of exactly what was captured on film, but confirmed that the footage contains evidence of the mistreatment of patients at Muckamore Abbey.

A spokesperson said: “Belfast Trust can confirm that a further number of staff have been placed on precautionary suspension following CCTV evidence of inappropriate treatment of patients.

“It should be noted that a full consultation was carried out with both staff and families when the CCTV cameras were installed.”

The spokesperson added: “The trust is satisfied that the care of current patients is safe, and we continue to be in regular communication with families of patients affected.”

A spokesperson for the PSNI said: “There have been no prosecutions to date, however the investigation remains ongoing.”

Police declined to give any further details.

In November, Chief Inspector Tracey Mageean said: “We can confirm that we are working with Belfast Health and Social Care Trust regarding a number of allegations into ill treatment of patients at a hospital facility in Antrim.”

She added: “This is a live investigation and it would be inappropriate to comment any further.

“The safeguarding of any vulnerable victim is a priority for the Police Service of Northern Ireland.”

Muckamore Abbey Hospital, just outside Antrim town, provides inpatient, assessment and treatment facilities for people with severe learning disabilities and mental health needs, forensic needs or challenging behaviour.

News of the suspensions follows reports that a “whistleblower” had claimed that staff were being forced to endure violent assaults by patients.

In 2013, a report by Belfast-based lobby group the Patient and Client Council highlighted issues at Muckamore Abbey, including a lack of freedom, little privacy and in some cases, isolation.