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NMC response to High Court judgement: Muckamore Abbey Hospital

Our response

Following the High Court’s judgement in relation to suspected failings in care at Muckamore Abbey Hospital on Friday 8 February, we want to reassure the families that we are working closely with the Trust and the Police Service of Northern Ireland to get the CCTV footage necessary to take regulatory action. We understand that this must be a very concerning time for all those involved, and we are very sorry for the impact this is having on them and their families.

We don’t wish to prolong this and want to assure the families we will pursue all options to make sure we receive the evidence as quickly as possible. We have agreed with the Trust that we will work with them to make sure the families are fully informed as things progress.

Background to the cases

Concerns about patient safety at Muckamore Abbey Hospital in Northern Ireland were first raised in September 2017 and we received our first referral from the Belfast Health and Social Care Trust in December. Between December 2017 and January 2019, we had a total of ten referrals from the Trust which drew on a summary of evidence which is said to show the serious abuse of patients by nursing staff.

In light of the very serious public protection concerns and public interest in the case, we applied for and were granted interim suspension orders on nine of the ten nurses on the basis of evidence from the Trust.

The information we based the interim order applications on came from a summary of the CCTV footage. We have asked for the CCTV footage but we have not received it. We understand that the reasons for this is due to the ongoing police investigation. The interim order applications were presented before independent panels who decided to impose interim suspension orders.

Seven of the nurses appealed this decision and on Friday 8 February 2019, the High Court in Belfast lifted their suspension orders on the basis there was not enough evidence to keep them in place. We have asked for information from the Trust to determine our next steps.