Belfast Telegraph

Belfast Health Trust boss accepts responsibility over Muckamore scandal but won't quit

Muckamore Abbey Hospital in Antrim
Muckamore Abbey Hospital in Antrim

The chief executive of the Belfast Trust has said he accepts responsibility for failings at Muckamore Abbey Hospital, but won't resign.

Martin Dillon was speaking to the BBC after meeting with families of 25 patients on Monday night.

He said that the meeting had been "very constructive" and that further engagement with families and carers would follow.

The Co Antrim facility is home to patients with learning disabilities and challenging behavioural needs.

A report commissioned by the Belfast Trust to examine safeguarding procedures over the five years up to 2017 discovered a "culture of tolerating harm" at Muckamore.

Mr Dillon said that he was considering giving families a greater say in the running of Muckamore.

"Some of the care failings in Muckamore are a source of shame, but my primary focus is on putting things right," he told the BBC.

"I'm the accounting officer, the buck rests with me, which is why I am resolved to make things right. We have let families down and we will put this right."

Asked if it was a resigning matter for himself, Mr Dillion said "no," he wanted to ensure lessons were learned over the scandal.

The Belfast Trust boss said that staff would be held to account over the failings at the hospital.

Belfast Trust chief executive Martin Dillon.
Belfast Trust chief executive Martin Dillon.

"I have been very clear, any member of staff, whether a practitioner or a manager who is found responsible for wrongdoing will be held to account by my organisation," Mr Dillon said.

"Incidents witnessed on CCTV were not reported to management and site management, they were kept invisible from management."

Mr Dillon said that complacency may have set in amongst staff at the organisation.

"The report also highlights the fact that while patients make very many allegations of abuse, there probably was a tendency on the part of my organisation not to lend credibility to those," he said.

"So those are all huge learning points for this organisation."

He accepted that their had been a delay in reporting concerns at the hospital to the Department of Health.

"I accept there was a delay in our reporting of some of these matters to the Department of Health," Mr Dillon said.

"But the reason for that was that there was a delay in these matters coming to the attention of very senior management."

A Freedom of Information request revealed that police had been called to the hospital 130 times in nearly five years. There were 31 incidents of patient assaults on staff reported to the PSNI.

Nineteen staff have been suspended from the hospital and a police investigation into Muckamore is ongoing.

Relatives of patients at the hospital have called for an independent inquiry to be held into abuse there.

Last month Department of Health (DoH) permanent secretary Richard Pengelly said that he was "shocked and appalled" after viewing CCTV images of Muckamore Abbey Hospital.

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