Patients of Dr Michael Watt, the consultant neurologist at the centre of Northern Ireland’s biggest ever recall, have called on the Belfast Health Trust to explain the reason for the move.
Members of the ‘We Support Dr Watt’ group gathered outside the BBC’s Blackstaff studios yesterday morning to highlight their campaign calling for Dr Watt’s immediate reinstatement as their consultant.
The group’s organiser Christine Lynch told the Belfast Telegraph: “We need the Trust to issue a statement immediately telling us exactly why they initiated this recall.
“Is this really about misdiagnosis as they have led the public to believe?
“We have been left with over 2,500 seriously ill people having the added stress of dealing with this recall and not knowing exactly why.
“The past four weeks have been a nightmare. As a group we’ve dealt with scores of patients who are traumatised by the belief they may have been misdiagnosed or given incorrect treatment, and that they may have to undergo repeated painful and intrusive investigations.
“I’m shocked by what is happening to an outstanding neurologist. It all looks like a witch hunt.”
Responding to the concerns again raised by the supporters of Dr Watt, the trust said: “We understand the strength of feeling surrounding the recall of patients.
“This decision was not taken lightly. It was based on an independent and expert review carried out by the Royal College of Physicians, which was unequivocal in its recommendation that the diagnosis and care and treatment provided to patients should be reviewed.”
A further trust statement said: “We are very conscious that a number of patients are full of praise for Dr Watt, and indeed we very much hope that our review of his patients will provide reassurance to many of them (and to ourselves) that his care and treatment was appropriate.
“However, it is also important that we ensure that any patient who may not have received the appropriate care and treatment now does so.”
The Trust also revealed that the full report has now been shared in confidence with Dr Watt and the Public Health Agency (PHA) and the General Medical Council.
“The recommendations and conclusions in the report were also shared in confidence with the Ulster Independent Clinic and Hillsborough Private Clinic, the clinics where Dr Watt was practising at the time restrictions were put in place.
“This was so that those organisations could ensure appropriate action in relation to those patients within Dr Watt’s practice at the time of the restrictions.
“The report contains personal information relating to the doctor. The report also contains personal information relating to the care and treatment provided to individual patients and arrangements have been made for those patients to receive the details of their own individual case review.”