Medic’s patients to protest trust’s decision to remove him from duties
Hundreds of former patients of consultant neurologist Dr Michael Watt are expected to sign a letter of protest to the Belfast Health Trust, saying their lives have been put at risk by the decision to remove him from his duties.
Over 2,500 of Dr Watt's patients were subject to the largest ever patient recall in Northern Ireland last week amid concerns over misdiagnosis.
Two hundred special clinics to review patients began last weekend and are expected to continue over the next 12 weeks.
But former patient Terri Mercer said: "As far as we're all concerned, we're all still patients of Dr Watt.
"If anyone from the trust would look at the concerns raised on our Facebook page, they would see how much distress this has caused people who are still in need of urgent - and in many cases life saving - treatment, and how many want to continue being treated by Dr Watt.
"So many people have complete faith in him and we all feel horribly let down, shunted around to different consultants.
"We don't feel we're being listened to, so have no choice other than to protest directly to the trust about the way we've been treated."
The Belfast Telegraph has obtained a copy of the letter the campaigners are to send to the trust, and within two hours more than 100 had already signed their support.
The letter from the Facebook group calling itself 'Voice in Support of Dr Michael Watt' states: "We are extremely distressed by the trust's decision to remove Dr Watt from duty and the media coverage that followed the announcement.
"The Belfast Trust has not given us a reasonable explanation for their decision. They have in fact contradicted themselves in the media."
Ms Mercer said one senior official had reported it was a decision based on note keeping, while another had reported it was a concern over misdiagnosis.
"We believe as a collective, the Belfast Trust is endangering our lives by exposing us to more testing and discontinuing effective treatment already prescribed by Dr Watt," she said. "Therefore we are writing to communicate support for Dr Watt and the opposition of his abhorrent treatment by the trust.
"We wish to remain patients of Dr Watt's as we have complete faith in his ability as our neurologist."
The former patients, who had attended Dr Watt's clinics at the Royal Victoria Hospital and privately at the Ulster Independent Clinic and Hillsborough Private Clinic, are planning to take their protest to the Broadway entrance of the Royal Victoria Hospital on Thursday afternoon. They will ask the public and Dr Watt's former colleagues for support.