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Muckamore Abbey: ‘Crisis point’ over staff suspensions

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A report about Muckamore Abbey Hospital lists a series of catastrophic failings

A psychiatric intensive care unit at a scandal-hit County Antrim hospital has been temporarily shut due to a shortage of staff.

A review into the safety of vulnerable adults at Muckamore Abbey Hospital revealed that lives were compromised.

BBC News NI understands that more than 20 staff have been suspended, with one nurse saying the situation was at “crisis point”.

Staff called for an urgent meeting to be held on Sunday.

Sinn Féin MLA Pat Sheenan said health workers had “serious concerns” about staffing levels as well as a “difficult working environment and low morale”.

He met staff on Sunday and said the issues they discussed raised “important questions” about the “management and leadership” at the hospital.

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Belfast Trust

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A seclusion room was described as a “dark dungeon” by a parent of a patient

The Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) and the Belfast Health and Social Care Trust have started investigations into Muckamore Abbey Hospital.

It is believed that police were called to the hospital on Tuesday as staff attempted to restrain a patient.

Staff had wanted to place the patient in the hospital’s seclusion room.

But because of the investigations they were not able to and instead had to call police.

Staff say they are afraid to either restrain or use the seclusion room due to the recent adverse publicity.

The PSNI said its officers “attended a report of an incident” on Tuesday.

Last week a patient’s mother a described the seclusion room in which her son was placed as a “dark dungeon”.

‘Patients moved to other wards’

The confidential report about Muckamore Abbey Hospital charts a series of catastrophic failings and outlines that there was a culture of tolerating harm.

CCTV footage, taken over a three-month period, shows patients being pulled, hit, punched, flicked and verbally abused by nursing staff.

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There are plans to move vulnerable long-term patients out of the hospital

A father, whose son is a patient at the hospital, said heads should roll after the damning review into the safety of adults with learning difficulties.

Some charities have said the future of the hospital is now in question.

On Tuesday, the top official at Stormont’s Department of Health met some of the families whose relatives had been affected by the abuse and apologised to them.

Richard Pengelly said his department plans to move vulnerable long-term patients out of the facility by the end of next year.

The Belfast Trust said the decision to temporarily close the psychiatric intensive care unit had been made “due to staff absences”.

“Our priority is to provide a safe service; to do this we have moved affected patients into other wards,” added a spokeswoman.

“The families of those patients impacted have been informed.”

It said that while the unit was closed the facilities could still be used “as and when required”.

The trust said that health authorities and the healthcare monitoring body had been informed of the closure.

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