26 Jan 2007

NICCY meets Minister, parents, children and staff to seek resolution

THE Northern Ireland Commissioner for Children and Young People, Patricia Lewsley has met with the children and young people, and their parents, affected by delayed discharge from Muckamore Abbey.

In a series of meetings that included the Minister for Health, Social Services and Public Safety, Paul Goggins MP, Ms Lewsley heard the problems that need to be addressed.

“Throughout this week we at NICCY have continued to talk with key stakeholders and discuss the issues affecting the children and young people who have been staying at Muckamore longer than they need to,” she said.

“I am confident, as are the parents, that the staff at the hospital are providing the best possible care in the circumstances – and show dedication and commitment to all residents.

“However, it is clear that the system has failed these children and young people – it is inadequate that our health and social care system has not provided appropriate facilities for these young people in the community.

"This is despite clear statements issued by the DHSSPS in October 2005 confirming their endorsement for the provision of such a facility and stating clearly that hospital was inappropriate for the needs of these children and young people.

"I look forward to seeing a carefully planned response to this crisis which will address the current failings in the system and develop a long term approach that will prevent this ever happening again. At NICCY we want to see the Minister’s action plan and the trust’s ideas as soon as possible.”

The Commissioner emphasised that there was an immediate need to resolve the delayed discharge of children, who in some cases have been waiting for years.

“After hearing from parents and staff, it is clear that these children will need to be prepared and supported for what will be a big change to their lives, before they return to their families and the community.

"The professional front-line staff we met in the hospital have very clear plans for the right facilities, right support and sympathetic packages of care for these children and young people. What is required now is action to ensure these packages of care are in place before the child can be discharged from the hospital.”

Ms Lewsley emphasised that NICCY will continue to monitor the situation.

“It is a complex problem – but that is no excuse for allowing the situation to continue any longer than it already has - the Social Services Inspectorate report ‘Care at its best’ identified these issues two years ago.

"There must be no further delay in making sure that those recommendations are implemented and changes made to promote and safeguard the rights and best interests of the children and young people at Muckamore Abbey.”

Notes for Editors

  • Further information on the work of the Northern Ireland Commissioner for Children and Young People can be found here on the NICCY web site
  • For an up-to-date photograph of the Commissioner please contact the numbers below

MEDIA ENQUIRIES For more information please contact Andrew McGall, Communication Officer at NICCY on 028 9031 1616 or   communications@niccy.org