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Dr Michael Watt: Regulator completes review of deceased patients of former neurologist

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Dr Michael Watt

Dr Michael Watt

Dr Michael Watt

The medical records of 44 deceased patients of the disgraced former neurologist Dr Michael Watt have been reviewed by the Royal College of Physicians (RCP).

According to BBC NI, the organisation was tasked with the review by the regulator the RQIA and have shared the findings with the families of those deceased patients.

The examination – commissioned by the Department of Health - looked at the records of Dr Watt’s patients who died in the previous decade and the findings will be shared with those families who wish to receive them.

Last week an independent report published following the inquiry led by Brett Lockhart QC found that systems and processes in place around patient safety failed, and problems with Dr Watt’s practice were missed for years, with opportunities to intervene lost.

The care of more than 5,000 former patients of Dr Watt was reviewed by the inquiry.

The report published made 76 recommendations to the Department of Health, healthcare organisations, the General Medical Council and the independent sector.

The Belfast Trust has previously apologised to the patients who “suffered avoidable and unnecessary harm whilst under the care of Dr Watt”.

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According to the RQIA, there may be more than 3,000 deceased patients who were at some point under the care of Dr Watt in the decade prior to May 2018.

The cases selected for review included deceased patients whose family members had approached the RQIA with concerns about their care.

An RQIA spokesperson told BBC NI: "The Royal College of Physicians (RCP) Expert Review Panel provided the RQIA with its reports on its review of the medical records of 44 deceased patients of Dr Watt in late June.

"RQIA's Family Liaison Team is currently making arrangements to share the individual case summaries with those families who wish to receive them, to offer them an opportunity to discuss these findings and where appropriate to provide a further explanation or follow up."

"RQIA wishes to thank the families who came forward to voice concerns, for their participation in the Review; they have played a key role in illuminating the reality of the experience of patients and families," they said.

"We also thank the Royal College of Physicians, and the members of the Expert Review Panel, for their sensitive and thorough review of these records. The RCP's overview reports have been shared with the Department of Health, as the commissioner of the Review."

In a statement, a spokesperson for the Department of Health said: “The Department of Health has received the final detailed reports for Phase Two of the Expert Review of Records of Deceased Patients of Dr Watt, from the RQIA, and is considering the findings.

“The RQIA are in the process of sharing the individual reports with the families and the Department acknowledges that this may be an extremely difficult and upsetting time for the families affected.

"The RQIA Family Liaison Team has put in place a range of options for the families to receive their report alongside family support arrangements, including independent counselling services, for families who wish to avail of this.

"The Department feels it is appropriate that the families are provided with the space and time they require to engage with the RQIA and to consider the findings.

“The Departments thoughts are with the families affected as they consider their individual reports relating to their loved ones. The RQIA Family Liaison Team can be contacted by email to expert.review@rqia.org.uk or by telephone on 0800 052 0012.

“The Department is currently making the appropriate arrangements to share the outcome of this work and also to set out the next phase of the review process relating to deceased patients, which will be confirmed in due course.”


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