Muckamore Abbey: ‘Insufficient evidence’ to suspend nurses

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Belfast High Court found there was insufficient evidence to justify the temporary suspensions

Belfast High Court has found there was insufficient evidence to suspend seven nurses from Muckamore Abbey Hospital from the national nursing register.

They were suspended by the Nursing and Midwifery Council following a police investigation into allegations of abuse against patients.

The nurses remain temporarily suspended by the Belfast Trust.

In a statement, the Belfast Health and Social Care Trust said its processes were unaffected by the ruling.

The judge’s ruling in the High Court sitting in Belfast on Friday, means that the nurses can practice in the UK, but not within the Belfast Trust pending the outcome of the investigation.

“We have contacted families directly over the weekend to discuss concerns,” the trust said.

“We appreciate that this is a difficult time.”

‘Regulatory action’

The Nursing and Midwifery Council said they are aware of the court’s decision.

“We are continuing to investigate the very serious allegations about nursing care at Muckamore Abbey Hospital,” a statement said.

“In light of the court’s decision, we urge the Belfast Health and Social Care Trust to provide us with the evidence we have previously requested which we require so were can take appropriate regulatory action.”

‘Deeply distressing’

By December 2018, 19 health workers including a number of nurses had been suspended from working at Muckamore Abbey Hospital.

Insufficient evidence meant that the suspensions from the national register were overturned.

One of those involved told the BBC that it had been a deeply distressing time and that the court decision did not mean the matter was totally over for those involved.

In a statement, Rita Devlin from the nurses’ union, the Royal College of Nursing, said: “The RCN in Northern Ireland believes that the powers exercised by the Nursing and Midwifery Council must be robust in their essential public protection function but must also follow due process and be fair to those who are the subject of investigation.

“The RCN in Northern Ireland has written to the Permanent Secretary of the Department of Health calling for the establishment of an independent inquiry into the care and treatment of patients residing at Muckamore Abbey Hospital.”

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