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Report into Northern Ireland's largest ever patient recall postponed

The recall followed a review into the work of neurology consultant Dr Michael Watt (stock photo)
The recall followed a review into the work of neurology consultant Dr Michael Watt (stock photo)

A report into the biggest patient recall in Northern Ireland's history has been postponed, it has emerged.

In May last year, it was announced that more than 2,500 neurology patients, including children, were being recalled for a case review, following concerns some may have been misdiagnosed.

The announcement was made following a review into the work of neurology consultant Dr Michael Watt at the Belfast Health and Social Care Trust.

In October, it was revealed that a further 1,044 patients seen by Dr Watt were to be contacted.

The release of an outcomes report into the recall that was due on Wednesday has now been postponed. Planned updates to charities and politicians have also been delayed.

SDLP deputy leader Nichola Mallon said she has requested a meeting with the Permanent Secretary of the Department of Health over the issue.

“The neurology recall is the biggest patient recall in our history. The outcome and scale of over-diagnosis and misdiagnosis is a matter of patient and public interest," she said.

"It is very disappointing that more than a year after the recall process began, this information has still not been released. Patients and the public deserve openness and transparency.

"They deserve to know why this information cannot be released, as was planned on Wednesday. I have written to the Permanent Secretary in the Department of Health to ask for an urgent meeting and a full explanation.”

A Department of Health spokesperson said the plans have been postponed due to "unforeseen circumstances".

"The postponement does not relate to the ongoing care or diagnosis of neurology patients," they said.

"It is important to note that every patient reviewed to date has already been told of any changes to their diagnosis, care and treatment, as has their GP."

Last month, the Belfast Telegraph revealed that a review into the deceased patients of Dr Watt, announced a year ago, had still not started.

The Regulation and Quality Improvement Authority, who are responsible for the review, said it was "a highly complex matter" and they were sensitive to the concerns of those who lost loved ones.

They added that once details like the scope and methodology had been agreed, the terms of reference would be published.

Dr Watt remains suspended from working as a doctor in the UK while the General Medical Council continues its investigation.

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