30 Jan 2007

NICCY welcomes first step for learning disabled children, but ‘more could have been done’

THE Northern Ireland Commissioner for Children and Young People, Patricia Lewsley, today expressed her disappointment over the Government Action Plan to address the delayed discharge of children and young people at Muckamore Abbey Hospital.

Ms Lewsley said she welcomed the swift response of Government to the problem, but she was concerned that the action plan addressed only part of the issues facing the children and young people in Muckamore.

“I am disappointed that the Minister has not produced a more comprehensive response,” she said. “There are many issues that remain including how community resources will be properly put in place, which meet the specific needs of these vulnerable children.”

The Commissioner said her priority was that parents and their children receive the appropriate care and that there was a clear plan to adequately resource existing and future provision.

“We will look carefully at the detail of the Action Plan, but we are concerned to ensure the proposed £3m is a new resource and is a first commitment in Government’s response to properly funding a comprehensive Mental Health and Learning Disability Service”.

“I welcome the ministerial commitment that no child will be permanently resident after 2009, especially as this is bringing forward a target date set in the Bamford Review of Mental Health and Learning Disability by two years. What we need to see is the full picture with regard to funding Professor Bamford’s proposals.”

Ms Lewlsey and members of her staff visited Muckamore Abbey last week and spoke with parents, children and members of staff.

“The parents emphasised their appreciation of the care and commitment of the staff, now I want to see that commitment reflected in taking forward the action plan and developing it more comprehensively to make sure that children and young people with a learning disability receive the right care at the right time and with the right support.

"There are also a range of measures that could be put in place quickly to make sure those children in Muckamore are offered a reasonable standard of accommodation. We will be writing to the Minister seeking further assurances about the Action Plan in the wider context of the Bamford Review”

Notes for Editors

  • The Commissioner's recent statements on the Muckamore Abbey Hospital issue can be found in our news archive at NICCY
  • Further information on the work of the Commissioner can be found here on the web site

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