Belfast Telegraph

Tribunal places restrictions on neurologist's work

By Victoria Leonard

Major restrictions have been placed on the consultant neurologist at the centre of Northern Ireland's biggest patient recall by an interim tribunal.

Dr Michael Watt was suspended from clinical duties with the Belfast Trust in June 2017 and his "fitness to practice details" on the General Medical Council register have now been updated to include 10 conditions.

Among these is the requirement that he "must be closely supervised in all of his posts by a clinical supervisor".

In addition, several restrictions have been put on the Hillsborough medic's treatment of patients with neurological conditions. One states that he "must not prescribe disease modifying therapies for multiple sclerosis patients without prior discussion within, and the approval of, an appropriately constituted trust-wide multi-disciplinary team".

Another adds that "his management of patients with epilepsy should be in accordance with NICE clinical guidelines and his prescribing practice of such patients must be subject to regular clinical audit".

Furthermore, Dr Watt must "only perform epidural blood patching in line with his employing trust's protocol, and his practice must be subject to regular clinical audit at intervals agreed with his supervisor". Dr Watt must allow the GMC to exchange information with his employer or any contracting body for which he provides medical services, and cannot work as a locum. He must also only work in an NHS post or setting.

Meanwhile, Department of Health permanent secretary Richard Pengelly yesterday held discussions with two private sector clinics with links to Dr Watt.

As well as the NHS, Dr Watt carried out work at two independent clinics, but held his own records of his private work.

The Ulster Independent Clinic has previously told the Irish News it had "sought advice on obtaining access to the information required from these files urgently to allow us to accurately identify any patients who may need to be contacted".

Mr Pengelly said after yesterday's meeting: "I was very pleased to receive assurances from both organisations that they are focused on rapidly identifying the active patient list in respect of Dr Watt's practice with them.

"Both Hillsborough Private Clinic and the Ulster Independent Clinic gave us an assurance that they will endeavour to ensure that all their patients are reviewed within the same 12-week target timescale established by Belfast Trust for its patients.

"For our part, I assured both organisations that in the event they have any difficulty achieving this target, we will work with them to offer whatever assistance we can."

Belfast Telegraph

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