The Department of Health (DoH) has announced a regional review of neurology services after accepting that waiting lists had become "unacceptably long".
The announcement follows the biggest patient recall ever in Northern Ireland earlier this year when over 3,000 patients of Belfast-based consultant neurologist Dr Michael Watt were recalled.
The recall was ordered after a Royal College of Physicians report raised concerns about Dr Watt.
Dr Watt is currently suspended by the Belfast Trust.
The review will be led by a team headed by consultant neurologist Dr John Craig and will identify the service configuration for the next 10-15 years.
It will identify how services can be remodelled to improve care and include consideration of innovative service improvements.
The review will also consider how governance can be strengthened, building on learning from the recall of patients in the Belfast Trust and the Regulation and Quality Improvement Authority’s Review of Governance of Outpatient Services.
Permanent Secretary of the DoH Richard Pengelly admitted that neurology services had been under "significant pressure" for some time.
"Waiting lists have become unacceptably long. This review will drive improvements both through the identification of initiatives which can be taken forward quickly, as well as the identification of longer-term strategic reforms," he said.
“The Department is committed to ensuring that the voice of service users and carers is central to the review. To that end, we will be working closely with the Northern Ireland Neurological Charities Alliance to design and deliver a programme of engagement to achieve this.”
Dr Craig said the review would be an opportunity to transform services for patients.
"I am pleased to be leading the review and look forward to working not just with colleagues from across the whole service, but I am especially keen to work with those who use our services and so to ensure their voices are heard and are central to the future of neurology services in Northern Ireland,” he said.
The interim report is expected to be completed by March 2019 with a final report due by June 2019.