Belfast Telegraph

Muckamore Abbey hit by 40 resignations and retirements

Scores of staff have resigned, retired or been suspended at Muckamore Abbey
Scores of staff have resigned, retired or been suspended at Muckamore Abbey

There are doubts about the future of Muckamore Abbey Hospital after it emerged around 40 nursing staff have resigned or retired since January.

It comes after a second man was arrested by detectives investigating allegations of ill-treatment of patients at the scandal-hit facility, which cares for people with severe learning disabilities and mental health needs. The 33-year-old was later released on police bail pending further investigation.

Figures obtained by The Irish News show that scores of registered nurses and nursing assistants have voluntarily left their positions since the beginning of the year.

Several managers have also retired over the same period.

Since investigations into alleged abuse at the hospital began in 2017, 36 staff have been placed on precautionary suspension. These suspensions, combined with resignations and retirements, mean that Muckamore has lost more than 30% of its 250-strong workforce.

A total of 74 nurses are still working at the hospital.

Detectives probing alleged abuse at Muckamore have been trawling through thousands of hours of CCTV footage, which police say has so far revealed 1,500 potential crimes on one ward.

Speaking to the Irish News, Glynn Brown, whose son Aaron is a patient at Muckamore and was allegedly ill-treated by staff, said the situation was putting pressure on nursing staff.

"These figures paint a bleak picture and you have to ask how any organisation could withstand this haemorrhaging of its workers," he said.

"There are some very hard-working staff in Muckamore but they are being permanently squeezed. This isn't good for them and it isn't good for the patients."

Claire McKeegan, a solicitor at Phoenix Law who represents many Muckamore families, said the Belfast Trust must take action to address the staffing shortages.

"The trust must implement immediate change from the top down and that must include a new management team and structures," she said.

"Closing a hospital is not the answer to this crisis. Investment must be made in a new team who are equipped to deal with these patients and assist in their resettlement where possible into suitable accommodation in the community.

"The lack of resources in a critical hospital which is the only model of its kind here in Northern Ireland would not continue in any other part of the UK."

In a statement, the Belfast Trust said it was "very conscious of the negative impact on all patients, families, and carers affected by issues at the hospital and we are committed to having ongoing constructive conversations with all families and carers".

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

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