A patient with a learning disability was trailed by the scruff of her neck along the ground and paid in sweets to stroke the arm of a staff member at Muckamore Abbey Hospital, a public inquiry has been told.
The mother of the patient, identified at the Muckamore Abbey Hospital Inquiry as Amanda, told the hearing her daughter had black eyes on an almost weekly basis for years while she lived at the scandal-hit facility.
Amanda’s mum, Marie, told the inquiry the first time she discovered her with a black eye was after her daughter was involved in an “altercation” with a nurse and she believed she was being targeted as a result.
“About a week later, that’s when the injuries started to happen, and I did wonder is this because of what happened to that nurse,” explained Marie, who also said the altercation was entirely out of character for Amanda.
Marie told the inquiry the injury sustained by Amanda was so severe that her daughter was unable to open her eye and her father, who was also present during the visit, described it as a “boxer’s black eye”.
When they asked a nurse how the black eye had occurred, they were told Amanda, who was diagnosed with epilepsy when she was a baby, had fallen against a wall.
Marie told the inquiry they challenged the nurse and accused staff of beating Amanda, but she responded: “Don’t be letting her pull at your heart strings”, before walking away.
She added: “I considered contacting the PSNI. I did believe the staff were beating her, but I also thought nurses wouldn’t behave in that way. For the next three to four years, every other week she would have had black eyes.”
Marie also said she arrived at the hospital on another occasion and discovered her daughter had broken a front tooth. She was told this had happened due to a fall.
The mother-of-four also told the inquiry that Amanda has never sustained an injury outside of Muckamore and she was never contacted by staff at the hospital to inform her that she had been hurt.
She also said Amanda was moved from her ward which had a modern, single room with a television, to a dormitory-style ward and this happened without any prior consultation.
She discovered Amanda had been moved when she arrived for a visit and found her crying in a bare room, with her clothes dumped on the ground.
Marie said she was “horrified” and described the room as “terrifying”.
She said there were bars on the window, that it looked like something you would see in a “scary movie”, and she felt like her daughter had been “discarded” and “thrown into a room and just left” overnight.
She added: “You question yourself, ‘are these people hurting my child?’ But then you thought to yourself, ‘they are nurses, they are like angels’. You trust them, they are like your GP.
“There is big guilt there, but that is something I’m going to have to live with. It’s hard to believe these sorts of things happen in this day and age.”
Marie told the inquiry that during a visit, she witnessed a member of staff pushing a patient “forcefully” on the body without any warning.
She also said Amanda is now experiencing a different type of seizure that doctors believe may be caused by stress and this has meant she has been unable to provide a statement to the inquiry.
In recent months, Amanda, who now lives independently in supported living accommodation, has disclosed further information about her time at Muckamore.
She has claimed she was dragged by her neck along the ground, causing a burning sensation to her back, and that a member of staff would give her and other patients sweets in exchange for stroking her arm, which she said she did not want to do.
Marie said: “She doesn’t like anything about it [Muckamore], it’s going to haunt her forever.
“I hope it’s closure at some stage for Amanda, she wants to be believed and she doesn’t want it to happen to anyone else. It was very traumatic for her and me.
“I’m hopeful she will be able to recover from the abuse that happened to her at Muckamore. I don’t know whether she will ever fully get over it, it has affected her on a very deep level.”
The hearing continues on Wednesday.