Patients launch campaign in support of Belfast doctor
Former patients of a neurologist at the centre of a misdiagnosis scare in Belfast have launched a Facebook campaign in support of Dr Michael Watt and have called for his immediate re- instatement.
Rhonda O'Neill (44), a mum of two from Magherafelt, is one of those involved in setting up the Facebook group, and says she is not alone in finding it difficult to watch what has happened over the last week.
And she's asking all former patients who have experienced life saving treatment from Dr Watt to sign a letter of support and send it to the Belfast Health Trust so their voices can be heard.
It states that signatories have "complete faith in his ability as my neurologist".
"We all think Dr Watt has been treated abhorrently over this," said Ms O'Neill. "We all want to see him reinstated. He is a fantastically humble man and we all think the world of him."
Her call was echoed by Belfast women Christine Lynch and Terri Mercer who started the Facebook page 'Voice in Support of Dr Watt' which already has over 100 members showing their support after only two days online.
And Terri, whose daughter is also a patient of Dr Watt, says she and the other group members have serious concerns over why Dr Watt's name was released, as other doctors in similar health scares have remained anonymous.
"As far as we're all concerned, we're all still patients of Dr Watt and we want that to continue. We had a doctor we could trust but that has been taken away from us," she said.
"I had been wrongly diagnosed by a GP before over my illness but no one has said anything about that, so why has Dr Watt been hung out to dry?"
Rhonda O'Neill has been a patient of Dr Watt for eight years.
She said: "He was able to diagnose me with a very rare condition, autonomic neuropathy. It's extremely hard to diagnose and extremely hard to treat, but the care I've been given has been second to none.
"But for the past year, since Dr Watt hasn't been working, I've had to go to London to receive the treatment I need. I've been over five times to see different specialists and each time there's been nothing but praise for Dr Watt and what he was doing for me.
"It's hard to see a family man's career being ruined like this, and what we want as a group is to at least have our voice heard. There are plenty more people like me out there who have nothing but praise for Dr Watt and perhaps now they can have a platform for getting their message across."
She added: "My condition damages nerves that help my organs function normally so it's very complicated and can lead to many other conditions over time. I dread to think where I would be today without him. He tried many different techniques and treatments and without him there for support I'm fearful of what the future holds for me.
"I spent seven years sitting in waiting rooms to see Dr Watt and it was always full of people with debilitating illnesses. There are so many people he has helped during his career and I want them to come forward now and tell the world how they went in fearful and came out smiling.
"A few of us who know each other through being treated by Dr Watt all felt we should at least try to do something. Many of us owe our lives to him, but we didn't know how to help him."
Rhonda, who is getting ready for another trip to see a specialist at King's College London, added: "We'd love as many of Dr Watt's patients to join our Facebook support page as possible.
"He deserves our support and to add to this we're asking former patients to print off a letter and send it to Dr Watt's line manager at The Royal Victoria Hospital, Dr Cathy Jack. It's available on our Facebook page."