Update on closure of Muckamore Abbey Hospital

Date published: 05 June 2024

The Department of Health has today announced an extension to the closure date for Muckamore Abbey Hospital.

Department of Health Latest News image white text on a departmental blue background
Department of Health Latest News image white text on a departmental blue background

The target closure date of June 2024 which had been set last year, was dependent on all the remaining patients successfully transitioning to agreed alternative accommodation placements in the community.

Health Minister, Mike Nesbitt MLA said: “Much work has been done to find suitable community placements for the remaining in-patients since the announcement of closure. This work is overseen by the Regional Resettlement Oversight Board, chaired by Dr Patricia Donnelly, and I am grateful to Dr Donnelly and the Oversight Board members for their work. However, it is now clear that not all the remaining patients will be successfully resettled in advance of the proposed closure date in June.  This is why I am signalling today an extension to the proposed June closure date.

“I am very aware that as we get closer to the anticipated closure date of June 2024, the lack of clarity about the immediate future of the hospital is heightening levels of anxiety among the remaining patients and their families about the future arrangements for their care; this uncertainty is also impacting on hospital staff.

“The resettlement process, particularly for those patients who have spent a considerable part of their lives in Muckamore, can be complex and any attempt to rush this work risks the breakdown of individual community placements, and I know such breakdowns can be a difficult and traumatic experience for patients and their families.”

He added: “Planning will continue at pace in relation to establishing resettlement timelines for the remaining patients, and the work being progressed by the Belfast Trust to close the hospital will continue. However, setting a further target date at this point for the hospital’s closure is not helpful to patients or families. Nonetheless, the direction of travel remains closure and this will happen when all those at Muckamore have been resettled.

“Work to transform adult learning disability services will also continue. The Department is working with all Trusts to develop suitable alternative service provision to ensure that specialist Learning Disability Assessment and Treatment beds, as well as enhanced community preventative services, are available to meet the needs of the learning disabled population.  In addition, work to develop a draft Learning Disability Service Model is at an advanced stage.”

The planned closure of the hospital will have no bearing on the criminal investigation in relation to the hospital or the work of the Muckamore Abbey Hospital Inquiry. These will both continue according to their planned schedules.

Notes to editors: 

  1. For media enquiries please contact the DoH Press Office by email pressoffice@health-ni.gov.uk.
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  3. The Executive Information Service operates an out of hours service For Media Enquiries Only between 1800hrs and 0800hrs Monday to Friday and at weekends and public holidays. The duty press officer can be contacted on 028 9037 8110.

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