Belfast Telegraph

Belfast Trust ordered to improve after further failings discovered at Muckamore Abbey Hospital

Muckamore Abbey Hospital in Antrim
Muckamore Abbey Hospital in Antrim

The Belfast Trust has been ordered to take action after further issues were identified at Muckamore Abbey Hospital.

The Regulation and Quality Improvement Authority (RQIA) has issued three improvement notices against the trust over failings around nurse staffing levels, financial governance and safeguarding arrangements.

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

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

RQIA Director of Improvement and Medical Director Dr Lourda Geoghegan said the failure to comply notices came after unannounced inspections at Muckamore Abbey.

The health and social services watchdog conducted unannounced inspections at the facility in February 2019 and again in mid April 2019.

The Belfast Trust has until November 16 to comply with the improvement notices or face further action.

"We assessed the care and treatment provided to patients, as well as oversight and governance arrangements at the hospital.  In July, we conducted a further announced inspection, focusing on the arrangements for management of patients’ finances," Dr Geoghegan said.

During the inspections RQIA identified concerns relating to staffing arrangements, restrictive practices, safeguarding arrangements and the management of patients’ finances. 

Following the inspections the Belfast Trust provided RQIA with action plans, setting out how it would address the concerns identified.

Muckamore Abbey Hospital
Muckamore Abbey Hospital

Earlier this week RQIA met with senior management from the Belfast Trust to discuss their concerns and the actions required to address the issues.

"We welcome progress in addressing concerns relating to patients’ physical health care needs, hospital governance and restrictive practices," Dr Geoghegan said.

"However, we remain concerned about staffing arrangements, safeguarding arrangements, and the management of patients’ finances. Today we have issued three improvement notices to the Belfast Trust in relation to these areas."

"Every patient at Muckamore Abbey Hospital is entitled to best quality of care, and their ongoing safety and wellbeing is of paramount importance to RQIA. 

"We will continue to monitor progress through our inspection programme and ongoing engagement with the Belfast Trust.”

The Belfast Trust said that it was "pleased" RQIA had noted the "very real progress we have made across all areas of care in Muckamore".

However the trust accepted "that more remains to be done" and welcomed the improvement notices.

"Belfast Trust is fully committed to working with RQIA to provide ongoing and detailed assurance," a trust spokesperson said.

"The Board of Belfast Trust remains assured that the care in Muckamore Abbey Hospital is safe and compassionate and will continue to do it can to ensure that patients receive the best possible care."

SDLP Health Spokesperson Mark H Durkan said that the trust must take "urgent action" to address the failings.

"These are not issued lightly and demand an immediate response," the Foyle MLA said.

“Family members deserve to know that their loved ones are receiving appropriate care in an environment that is safe for them and for the staff looking after them.

“I have spoken with the Chief Executive of the RQIA this morning about this matter and intend to raise it with senior management at the Belfast Trust with my party colleagues.

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

A number of staff were suspended from the hospital and a police investigation into Muckamore is ongoing.

Police said they were examining 240k hours of Muckamore CCTV footage as part of  abuse probe

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

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