Muckamore relatives urge health minister to call public inquiry

Relatives of vulnerable patients allegedly abused in hospital in Northern Ireland have urged the health minister to call a public inquiry.

Police suspect 1,500 criminal assaults over a number of months in a ward with six beds at Muckamore Abbey in Co Antrim.

The father of one of the alleged victims met new Stormont minister Robin Swann on Monday.

Robin Swann
Robin Swann (Rebecca Black/PA)

Glynn Brown said: “We want a full public inquiry to ensure that this never happens again.”

Muckamore treats people with severe learning disabilities and mental health needs.

Police are probing claims of physical and mental abuse of patients in the psychiatric intensive care unit in 2017-18.

Lawyer for some of the relatives Claire McKeegan said: “There have been thousands of allegations of criminal assaults perpetrated on the most vulnerable people in our society in a hospital setting.

Claire McKeegan
Claire McKeegan (Michael McHugh/PA)

“Only a public inquiry with full powers to compel documents and evidence will get to the truth of how management and all the organisations involved, the hospital trust, Regulation and Quality Improvement Authority (RQIA) and indeed police who were aware of allegations at certain times, only that type of robust investigation will get to the truth of why they have been failed and how this was allowed to happen.”

Mr Brown formed the pressure group Action for Muckamore after his son was allegedly subjected to 160 assaults amid a “massive scandal”.

Mr Brown claimed there had also been failings in adult safeguarding and social work.

Ms McKeegan said campaigners urged Mr Swann to make good on commitments to the patients and their families months before devolution was restored.

She added: “The numbers are absolutely terrifying.

“The families that we represent have been receiving almost daily reports from the police indicating that there are further assaults that they have established have been found on the CCTV footage.

“This is absolutely devastating to hear that your child, who in many instances is non-verbal and cannot speak for themselves, has been violated in such an inhumane way by medical staff in a hospital.”

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