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Belfast Trust calls in 2,500 patients for review after consultant neurologist investigation

3 May 2018

The Belfast Trust has called in 2,500 patients for a review after an investigation into the work of a consultant neurologist.

Concerns were raised about Dr Michael Watt’s treatment plans and diagnoses by other doctors. After this, his work was investigated by the trust and the Royal College of Physicians.

This resulted in 2,500 people who received treatment from Dr Watt being asked to come in for a review. They were being treated for a number of conditions, including epilepsy and MS.

The trust has set up additional clinics and intends to see all these patients within the next 12 weeks. It said that everyone who needs to be reviewed in this case has been contacted. The trust is asking those patients to get in touch so an appointment can be made.

An advice line has also been set up for anyone worried and needing support. People can call this on 0800 980 1100 from 9am to 9pm on weekdays and from 9am to 5pm on weekends.

Dr Mark Michaelson, medical chair of division, said he is truly sorry for the anxiety this may have caused people. “The recall of such a large number of patients is so that we can be confident and thorough in ensuring that patients are having the best possible care.”

Simon Wigglesworth, Epilepsy Action deputy chief executive, said: “This is a very concerning case. Although Dr Watt’s speciality wasn’t epilepsy, his caseload includes people with epilepsy.

“This will have a significant knock-on effect of increasing waiting times for new patients and reviews. We know waiting times in Northern Ireland are already at an all-time high of two to three years, which is unacceptable.

“We will be writing to the trust and Department of Health to find out what plans are in place to ensure there are sufficient neurologists to complete the reviews swiftly with minimum impact on already stretched waiting times.”

The trust said that Dr Watt is not treating patients at the moment, but is still an employee.

 

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