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Inquiry opens into alleged patient abuse at Muckamore Abbey

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A public inquiry has opened into allegations of extensive and repeated abuse of patients at Muckamore Abbey, a hospital for vulnerable adults in Northern Ireland.

The inquiry’s chair, Tom Kark, said at the first hearing on Monday that the allegations of abuse and neglect at the psychiatric facility outside Belfast, in County Antrim, brought the medical, nursing and care professions into disrepute.

“Many of the parents and relatives and carers who trusted the hospital have been let down and they are understandably furious and some feel guilty,” he said. Kark, a QC, said a civilised society had a duty to care for people with learning disabilities and mental illness.

Police have arrested 34 people and more than 70 staff have been suspended as a precaution since the alleged abuse came to light in 2017. The police investigation will proceed in parallel to the inquiry. Detectives have viewed about 300,000 hours of CCTV footage from the hospital.

Relatives of patients hope the inquiry will shed light on accounts of mental and physical abuse and neglect at what used to be considered one of the best facilities of its kind in Northern Ireland. The hospital currently has about 60 patients, down from about 1,500 in the 1980s.

“Without pre-determining any issues, it’s quite obvious that bad practices were allowed to persist at the hospital to the terrible detriment to a number of patients,” Kark told the inquiry.

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Source: The Guardian, 6 June 2022

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