MPs Called To Examine Learning Disability Hospital Detentions

MPs probing human rights abuses should examine the unnecessary detention of over 100 people with learning disabilities in a Northern Ireland hospital, the DUP claimed today.

Health spokeswoman Iris Robinson called on the Westminster committee to intervene in the scandal at Muckamore Abbey, Antrim, where patients were held because there was no money for home care.

“Very many people in Northern Ireland were horrified to hear of the plight of individuals with learning disabilities and the conditions they had to endure,” the Strangford MP said. “It also raised broader questions about departmental policy and the level of care received at other health trusts.”

A man at Muckamore stayed there for 10 years after his treatment had ended. A total of 17 children and over 100 adults were living at the hospital despite being suitable for discharge. Adults had their release delayed by an average of three-and-a half years.

The Joint Committee on Human Rights is examining the opportunities available for those with learning disabilities and the state’s obligation to provide the chance to participate in community life. It wants to ensure that the human rights of those affected are respected under the European Convention on Human Rights.

In March, charity Mencap reported six adults with learning disabilities had died because of inadequate NHS care.

A British government plan states that by March 2009, no child, and by March 2014, no adult with such disabilities would be in hospital.