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Healthcare lawyers shocked at delay in Belfast neurology case review

A health trust in Northern Ireland has recalled more than 2,500 patients

Posted on 02 May 2018

The work of neurology consultant Dr Michael Watt is under scrutiny as the health trust where he worked, the Belfast Health and Social Care Trust, has announced a case review for more than 2, 500 neurology patients. 

Neurology specialists deal with patients facing life-changing conditions such as MS, Parkinson’s Disease, stroke and Motor Neurone Disease.

Any delay or misdiagnosis about these conditions could have serious health consequences for the patients facing a review of their cases.

Concerns about the work of Dr Watt are believed to have been raised by a GP who was concerned about a patient’s diagnosis and treatment in December 2016.

Dr Watt ran a private practice at the Ulster Independent Clinic until June 2017. He remains an employee of the Belfast Health and Social Care Trust, but has not seen any patients in the public or private sector since June 2017. 

The Trust has set up an advice helpline for those patients, including children, who have been affected.  Patients can call on 0800 980 1100. 

Medical negligence solicitor at Leigh Day, Anna Brothers, says:

“As a clinical negligence specialist working in the field for nearly 10 years, I have dealt first-hand with the tragic consequences of negligent misdiagnosis. 

“Facing the diagnosis of a chronic and life-changing condition is gruelling emotionally for patients and families. It absolutely vital that patients are afforded the right diagnosis leading to the best and correct course of treatment and care from the outset.  Patients should feel confident in the clinical process and the judgement of the specialists they have placed their trust in.  “

I have the deepest sympathy for those involved in this recall process. It is a most vulnerable time for all concerned and I would urge those who are worried to seek legal advice and support at the earliest opportunity.”

Medical negligence solicitor Fiona Huddleston added, “It is deeply concerning that it has taken 16 months for investigations to be concluded and the consequent recall of patients, many of whom will have received their diagnosis a long time ago. It is also alarming that Dr Watt continued to see patients until June 2017. As a result of this delay, it seems likely that there will be some patients affected during this period who would not have been, had action been taken sooner.”