Muckamore Abbey unit shut over staff shortage
The Belfast Trust has been urged to address concerns over staffing levels at Muckamore Abbey Hospital.
It comes after the trust confirmed that staff shortages have forced it to temporarily close the hospital's psychiatric intensive care unit.
The move follows days after a report commissioned by the trust to examine safeguarding procedures over the five years up to 2017 discovered a "culture of tolerating harm" at Muckamore.
The BBC reported that more than 20 staff have been suspended, with one nurse saying the situation was at "crisis point".
Some charities have said the future of the hospital is now in question.
A trust spokesman said: "Due to staff absences, Belfast Trust has taken a decision to temporarily close the psychiatric intensive care unit.
"Our priority is to provide a safe service; to do this we have moved affected patients into other wards.
"Doing this will ensure our staff are supported to provide a safe and person-centred environment for our patients with increased staffing ratio on these wards.
"The families of those patients impacted have been informed," he said.
Yesterday, Sinn Fein health spokesman Pat Sheehan met with a group of concerned staff from Muckamore Abbey.
Afterwards, he said staff had raised concerns about staffing levels, difficult working environment and low morale within the hospital. Mr Sheehan said he had passed on their concerns to regulatory body, the RQIA.
"This raises important questions with regard to ongoing management and leadership at Muckamore Abbey Hospital," he said. "Investigations into alleged abuse of vulnerable adult patients at Muckamore Abbey are ongoing and the safety and wellbeing of patients currently there must be ensured.
"The Belfast Trust and management at Muckamore Abbey Hospital need to urgently address ongoing concerns with regard to staffing levels and ultimately ensure staff are supported to safeguard patients.
"We have contacted the RQIA to inform them of the concerns raised by staff."
The trust's report found the lives of patients were "compromised", safeguarding procedures were not followed, the seclusion room wasn't monitored, and there was a likelihood that patients would be harmed by their peers. On Monday the Department of Health permanent secretary Richard Pengelly met with relatives of the patients.
He said he wanted to "apologise to families face-to-face for what happened to their loved ones while in the care of Muckamore Abbey Hospital".