PSNI assessing if any offences linked to recall of 3,000 neurology patients

Patients asked to return after review of work carried out by Belfast-based Dr Michael Watt

The PSNI has confirmed it is assessing whether any criminal offences have been identified following the recall of more than 3,000 neurology patients in Northern Ireland.

The PSNI has confirmed it is assessing whether any criminal offences have been identified following the recall of more than 3,000 neurology patients in Northern Ireland.

 

The PSNI has confirmed it is assessing whether any criminal offences have been identified following the recall of more than 3,000 neurology patients in Northern Ireland.

The recall happened last year after an independent review of work carried out by consultant neurologist Dr Michael Watt, who has been suspended from practising medicine.

Recent BBC Spotlight programmes reported that one-in-five of the patients who were re-examined were found to have been misdiagnosed by the neurologist.

Dr Watt, who worked at the Royal Victoria Hospital in Belfast, dealt with conditions such as epilepsy, Parkinson’s Disease and multiple sclerosis. A report into the cases that was due to be published in June of last year by the North’s Department of Health. However, it never was.

‘Uncertain’

Spotlight reported that it had obtained details of the report and that it indicated that out of almost 3,000 patients, about 2,000 were said to have received a “secure diagnosis”. More than 600 were given “insecure” diagnoses, while another 329 diagnoses were “uncertain”, the BBC programme reported.

The PSNI on Wednesday said it was investigating the matter.

“We are aware of the recall of neurology patients by the Belfast Health and Social Care Trust and have met with senior officials within the Department of Health to discuss the issue,” a PSNI spokeswoman said.

“The department has agreed to provide us with further information so that we can assess how best to move forward and to enable us to determine if any potential criminal offences can be identified.”

SDLP deputy leader Nichola Mallon, who has campaigned on behalf of Dr Watt’s patients, said she had seen at first hand the emotional and mental impact of the ordeal on the patients.

“There are serious questions for the Belfast Trust and Department of Health about how they’ve handled this situation,” she said. “These patients were also promised openness and transparency and yet they are continually met with a wall of silence...They feel abandoned and ignored. They deserve better.”