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Dr Watt scandal: Belfast Health Trust still attempting to trace 140 in patient recall

By Jonathan Bell

The Department of Health says it still has to trace around 140 people in the Dr Michael Watt patient recall.

At the beginning of last month it was announced the Belfast Health Trust was to recall more than 2,500 patients following an independent review of clinical notes relating to the neurologist's work.

It is the largest patient recall in the history of Northern Ireland.

Dr Watt is currently not treating patients, although he remains an employee of the Belfast Trust.

The trust apologised and said it had set up special clinics to cope with the number of people affected and intended to see them all within 12 weeks.

It said details of the recalled patient appointments will not be available until enough data has been studied to allow the trust to reach "meaningful conclusions".

It said that the "full picture" of new diagnoses and treatments will not be made public until the end of the recall process.

A compensation scheme is being drawn up for those affected by the recall and an independent inquiry will be held into the trust's handling of complaints relating to Dr Watt.

The Department of Health revealed the latest recall appointment figures yesterday.

"Between May 1 and May 30, 2018, 678 people have been seen as part of the recall. A further 1,650 appointments have been booked for people to be seen over coming weeks," the department said.

"The Belfast Trust continues to seek to contact the remaining patients, approximately 140, who have yet to respond to the recall.

"That will include contact by phone and through GPs if required.

"Small numbers of recalled patients have either declined appointments or not attended their booked clinics. A further small number has requested and been given appointments outside the 12-week period."

Anyone caught up in the recall has the right to request an appointment, even if they miss the deadline.

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