The announcement of a public inquiry into alleged abuse at Muckamore Abbey Hospital is only one step towards justice for patients and their families, Alliance Health spokesperson Paula Bradshaw MLA has said, after the Assembly backed her call for such a move.
Health Minister Robin Swann announced the inquiry following an Alliance motion in the Assembly today (Tuesday). The Co Antrim hospital is currently the subject of a PSNI investigation surrounding allegations some staff physically and mentally abused several patients. A number of people have been arrested.
"I welcome the Minister's announcement he will establish a public inquiry into what went on at Muckamore Abbey Hospital,” said South Belfast MLA Ms Bradshaw.
“While not taking away at all from the commitment of many of the staff who worked so hard in such difficult conditions, the fact is Muckamore had for far too long been a 'high-risk setting' rather than a 'healing environment'. A public inquiry is therefore long overdue.
"One challenge now is to deliver answers to families, too many of whom have heard about serious incidents too late, had complaints unanswered, and seen appallingly poor governance - including the mismanagement of CCTV and the use of an un-monitored seclusion room. Another is to close the hospital and ensure people with learning disabilities or mental health problems are cared for in a much more appropriate environment.
"This motion was even more fundamental than that. It was a call to action to improve meaningfully and permanently the experience of people with mental health problems, learning disabilities and autism. This is only one step of the journey towards justice, but it must also be an absolute priority as we reform our overall health and social care system that never again should any care be provided in a place which is regarded as anything other than a healing environment."