Health Minister Robin Swann today launched a public consultation on the proposed closure of Muckamore Abbey Hospital.
The Minister emphasised that closure, if approved after public consultation, would be on a carefully planned and phased basis, with intensive engagement with patients and families.
Mr Swann said: “I announced on 29 September that I was considering the future role of the hospital.
“I have carefully considered the options and I believe that signalling a clear intention now to close the hospital would help to support and accelerate the direction of travel to deliver on the long standing policy aim – the resettlement of long-stay patients into appropriate community facilities and support.
“Muckamore Abbey Hospital has been providing services for people with a learning disability since it opened in 1949. As I have acknowledged previously, there have been serious failures of care at the hospital, leading me to initiate the public inquiry that is now underway.
“The model of care represented by large hospital facilities of this kind is outdated and inadequate. That’s why the overarching policy direction for people with learning disabilities has been to support long-stay residential patients to resettle into community-based facilities, where they can live as part of their local community.
‘Much work has been done to support people with learning disabilities to live independently within community settings – with only 35 remaining in the hospital today. Work is continuing to resettle the long-stay patients remaining in the hospital, and the Regional Resettlement Oversight Board, chaired by Dr Patricia Donnelly, will play an important role in supporting this transition to community-based care.’
Minister Swann continued: “I want to make it very clear that any final decision to close the hospital will involve a defined timescale for closure, and will be accompanied by a plan, co-produced with current hospital patients and their families, which will clearly set out how the services currently provided on the Muckamore Abbey Hospital site will be delivered in agreed alternative settings.
“Equally, I want to be clear that any decision to close the hospital will not affect either of the investigative processes currently underway into events at Muckamore Abbey Hospital. Both the criminal investigation and the MAH Public Inquiry will continue according to their planned schedules.
“I am very aware that any decision to close Muckamore Abbey Hospital may be distressing for current and prospective patients at the hospital, for their families and carers, and for staff at the hospital. The Health and Social Care system as a whole is working to develop a service that will respond effectively to the continuing need for assessment and treatment through small in-patient units, and modelling a safe community based service that extends home treatment, peripatetic and crisis response. This work will be done in partnership with service users and their carers, as well as local communities.”
The Minister concluded: “I would encourage anyone with an interest in the future of services for people with a learning disability to make their views known through the public consultation.”
Notes to editors:
- The Written Ministerial Statement will be available on the Department website DoH Ministerial announcements and statements 2022 | Department of Health (health-ni.gov.uk)
- The consultation can be accessed on the Department website at Public consultation on future of Muckamore Abbey Hospital | Department of Health (health-ni.gov.uk)
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