Doctors at the Royal Victoria Hospital are recalling 59 patients with conditions affecting their immune system in the latest health scare to rock the NHS.
Concerns were raised two months ago over the management of a group of immunology patients by a doctor following a difference of medical opinion.
An independent probe was subsequently carried out.
Bosses at the Belfast Health & Social Care Trust have refused to say whether the doctor whose work was reviewed is still treating patients. However, Dr Tony Stevens, medical director at the trust, said: “As I speak no-one has been disciplined or suspended.
“We will have to consider the outcome of the recall to decide what action to take next. As they are seen we will determine that. We will make sure no patient will be put at risk going forward.
“At this point in time we don’t know if any patient has come to harm or is not on the correct treatment.”
He continued: “I was made aware in August of a significant difference of medical opinion regarding the care of immunology patients and asked that a report be obtained from an independent expert.
“We brought someone over from England to carry out that review and I received the report last Thursday and acting on that we are recalling 59 patients to optimise their treatment.”
Dr Stevens said he is concerned there may have been a detrimental impact on some of the patients regarding the management of their conditions. But he stressed they are long-term conditions and no-one has been misdiagnosed.
In February, the Belfast Trust recalled 117 dental patients amid concerns over the care they received. A review of 18 other patients had found a number of them with cancer had been misdiagnosed. Four subsequently died.
Jim Wells MLA, vice chair of the Assembly health committee, called for swift action to allay public concern.
“The problem is that we have been here before,” Mr Wells said. “We’ve had previous recalls and I think if we have too many more of these it will undermine confidence within the management team, within the Belfast Trust.”
Patients treated at the Royal Victoria Hospital who need to be reviewed will receive a telephone call or letter by 5pm today. They will be offered an appointment over the next couple of weeks. The Belfast Health & Social Care Trust has set up an advice line for anyone that is anxious open from 8am to 6pm until Friday.
The telephone number is 028 9063 6330.