A member of nursing staff from Tyrone and Fermanagh Hospital has appeared in court accused of ill-treating a number of patients.

However, the Western Health and Social Care Trust, which operates the facility in question, refused to confirm if the staff member has been suspended, citing “confidentiality reasons”.

Anna Kelly (54), from Garvallagh Road, Fintona, is accused of committing the offences against two men and a woman who were receiving in-patient treatment at the Ash Villa Unit.

Offending is alleged to have occurred on dates between June 5 and 21, 2020, when Kelly is accused of ill-treating the patients, who were at the time suffering from mental disorders.

A defence barrister told Omagh Magistrates Court he intends to consult his client imminently and drew attention to the very serious nature of the charges.

While he sought one week to do this, District Judge Bernie Kelly said this was unrealistic, but the defence felt he could have full instructions for the court as “my client is taking time off work specifically to meet with me”.

Judge Kelly agreed, but warned: “I’m keeping a note of your comments, because I suspect you will return next week and inform me you are now seeking a psychiatric assessment, and that will take weeks to obtain.”

The case will be mentioned again on May 30.

Meanwhile, the Western Health and Social Trust was asked if Kelly has been suspended pending the outcome of the criminal proceedings, to which a spokesperson replied: “The Trust does not comment on individual staff due to confidentiality reasons.”