The Health and Social Care Board, now headed by former Derry Town Clerk Valerie Watts, says it will take time to carefully consider the recommendations of the inquiry into institutional child abuse and apologised for any failings on the part of its legacy boards and trusts that may have led to abuse.
The HSCB was one of the core participants at the inquiry, on behalf of all the legacy HSC organisations since 1922, and provided a wide range of information and evidence over a three year period to ensure the Inquiry had a comprehensive overview of systems and staff practices over a 70 year period.
A spokesperson for the HSCB said: “We are very aware from our knowledge and experience as Health and Social Care professionals, and reinforced by attending the hearings throughout the duration of the Inquiry, of the devastating impact that all forms of child abuse can have on children and how this can persist into adulthood. “We are saddened to know that such abuse happened both to children in our care, as well as to those not known to us and privately placed in Voluntary Children’s Homes.”
The HSCB said it was sincerely sorry for any failings that might have led to abuse in the past but reassured people that much better safeguards are in place now than was the norm across the north historically.
The spokesperson stated: “Therefore on behalf of the HSC we would offer a sincere apology for anything that our staff either did or failed to do, which led to such abuse occurring.
“We would, however, also want to reassure the applicants to the Inquiry, others who suffered such abuse, and the general public, that the safeguarding position for children today is very different than it was historically.
“There is now a much greater awareness of all forms of abuse, enhanced staff training, better complaints procedures for children to report any potential abuse, greater inspection, as well as robust policies and checks and balances to ensure that every effort is made to minimise the risk of abuse taking place. However, sadly, no system in the world is able to eradicate abuse from occurring completely.
“Mindful of the pain and suffering of those victims from the past, our aim is to ensure that such abuse is not repeated in the future.
“The HSCB would wish to offer all assistance possible for survivors of abuse in terms of any counselling and mental health services to support them through any trauma they are experiencing.”