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Belfast Trust welcomes the publication of the Independent Neurology Inquiry report

21st June 2022

Image includes an illustration of a phone. Text on image reads: Neurology Patient Advice Line. 0800 980 1100, Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm.

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Belfast Trust has today welcomed the publication of the report of the Independent Neurology Inquiry.

Chief Executive, Dr Cathy Jack, speaking directly to the patients of Dr Watt and their families, said: “The Belfast Trust let you down and many of you have suffered avoidable and unnecessary harm as a result.  Whether that was through being given a diagnosis that was not correct, receiving incorrect treatment or medication, or having a procedure you did not need. For that I am truly sorry.

“That is not what the Belfast Trust wants for its hundreds of thousands of patients, cared for in a wide variety of ways by a dedicated staff.  It is why that I, and my executive team, are determined to continue to work to improve the governance systems that we have in place to reduce, as far as we possibly can, the risk of something like this happening again.”

Chairman of Belfast Trust, Peter McNaney, continued: ‘The Inquiry’s Report is extensive and detailed and the Trust will need time to fully consider and reflect on its findings. While the Report highlights there were a number of missed opportunities in the past to enquire further into Michael Watt’s practice it also recognises the decisive action taken in 2017 by Dr Cathy Jack (the Trust’s then Medical Director) to commission an independent review by the Royal College of Physicians, which led to Michael Watt’s practice being fully restricted.

‘Through engagement with the work of the Inquiry the Trust has already taken steps to address some of its concerns including the introduction of clinical record review and a professional governance information system which collates and pulls together in one place all the information the Trust holds about its doctors.

‘The Trust will fully engage with the Department of Health and the entire HSC in considering any further action that might be required.

However, first and foremost, our thoughts today are very much with those patients who suffered avoidable and unnecessary harm whilst under the care of Dr Watt.  We are wholly and unreservedly sorry that occurred.”

The full Trust response to the Independent Neurology Inquiry report is available here.

Information on Neurology patient recall: Phase 1

Information on Neurology patient recall: Phase 2