Department of Health directs RQIA to review neurology services
A health watchdog is to review the running of services at the Belfast Health Trust following its recall of 2,500 patients.
Richard Pengelly, the Department of Health's permanent secretary, said the Regulation and Quality Improvement Authority (RQIA) has been directed to review outpatient services focusing on neurology.
Serious concerns were raised on Monday when the Belfast Trust announced the patient recall for those treated by the consultant neurologist Dr Michael Watt.
The department have also ordered the RQIA to complete a parallel piece of work to ensure the records of all Dr Watt's patients who have died over the past 10 years are subject to expert review.
"The department is very aware of the significant concerns which many patients and their families are currently experiencing and offers them our support and sympathy during what must be an extremely anxious time for them," said Mr Pengelly.
"The department’s first priority is to ensure the Belfast Trust promptly completes the recall process so that all of the patients who are part of Dr Watt’s caseload are reviewed to ensure that their diagnosis is appropriate and that they are receiving the right type of treatment and care.
"There are clearly important wider questions which will need to be addressed both to fully understand and assess the impact of what has happened and also to ensure that we can have confidence in the safety of neurology services now and in the future."
Mr Pengelly said the review would be extended as part of a rolling programme of inspections to cover all five health and social care trusts in Northern Ireland.
"Terms of Reference for this work are currently being developed with the RQIA and the RQIA has already begun the planning of this important review," he explained.
"We will also be reviewing how this whole process has been handled since the Belfast Trust first became aware of concerns about Dr Watt’s practice."