Department of Health Statement on Muckamore Abbey Hospital

Date published: 01 October 2019


The priority for Muckamore remains the safety and stability of care provided there.

Suspensions clearly contribute to the challenge of maintaining required staffing levels.

However, it should also be emphasised that the patient population at Muckamore has been significantly reduced over the past year. This has helped mitigate staffing pressures to a degree.


This is a difficult and challenging time for everyone involved with Muckamore.


Tribute should be paid to the many dedicated staff members who continue to work there and demonstrate their compassion, dedication and professionalism on a daily basis.


Their commitment must be acknowledged, alongside the continuing investigation into those who badly let down patients, their families, and their own colleagues - and besmirched the hospital’s name.


Stabilising provision at Muckamore is in the best interests of patients, their families and staff.


Every practical step will continue to be taken to manage the facility and ensure patients are kept safe.


All Trusts have committed to ensure adequate staffing and resource to support a hospital that serves the whole population of N Ireland.


Looking to the longer term, there is clear need to transform services for adults with learning disabilities in NI.


In line with the vision set by the Bamford’s Equal Lives report, and more recently the Bengoa review, we are firmly committed to reducing lengthy hospital admissions by providing additional support for people to live sustainably in local communities.


The reshaping of services will cover different aspects of care including: in-patient assessment and treatment of patients with learning disabilities; respite care; outreach work to support community placements; and provision in circumstances where placements might break down.


Identifying the best long-term location or locations for inpatient and respite care will form part of this work. The best interest of patients and their families will be the paramount consideration at all times.


Any changes will be taken forward in detailed consultation with patients, their families, carers, and staff.

Notes to editors: 

1. For media queries please contact the Department of Health Press Office on 028 9052 0575 or email: For out of hours please contact the Duty Press Officer on 028 9037 8110.

2. Follow us on twitter @healthdpt

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