‘Shock’ At Children In Hospital

The Commissioner for Children and Young People is to meet young patients kept in Muckamore Abbey Hospital after their treatment has ended. A BBC investigation revealed that there are 17 children in the County Antrim hospital, which treats adults with learning disabilities.

Some of the young people have been ready to go home for nearly 20 months.

Children’s Commissioner Patricia Lewsley said she wanted to know why government policy was not followed. “I was shocked to hear that these very vulnerable children and young people have been denied the services they need and I have asked the trust to confirm the numbers of children and young people involved.” she said.

“My office has consistently raised with government the need for adequate resources for the Mental Health and Learning Disability Services as highlighted in the Bamford Review. I will now be asking the minister, Paul Goggins, why these children and young people have remained in hospital despite this being directly contrary to government policy.”

She also said she wanted to meet medical staff to hear their views.

On Thursday night, Mr Goggins said he had commissioned a number of reports to ensure that these children were given the appropriate support.

The BBC investigation found people with severe learning disabilities were being kept in hospital as there is no money to care for them in the community. More than 100 adults with learning disabilities have had their discharge from hospital delayed for an average of three and a half years.

The father of a teenage boy at Muckamore said his son, who has learning difficulties, and other children were “forgotten about”. One man remains in the unit 10 years after his treatment ended.

The Department of Health said the current situation was “unacceptable” and would be looking into it.