Healthcare news

`Harm assessment' for incorrectly diagnosed neurology patients

Consultant neurologist Dr Michael Watt

A `HARM assessment' is to be carried out on patients of Belfast neurologist Dr Michael Watt who were incorrectly diagnosed and treated.

The Department of Health yesterday held a meeting with political parties during which the issue was discussed.

In May, it was announced that the Belfast health trust would recall more than 2,500 patients following an independent review of clinical notes relating to the neurologist's work.

Concerns had been raised around diagnosis and treatment plans.

By July 18 a total of 2,144 patients had been seen, with department permanent secretary Richard Pengelly yesterday paying tribute to the neurology team involved.

The department said it will now take time to consider arrangements for the review of Dr Watt's discharged patients.

SDLP deputy leader Nichola Mallon attended yesterday's meeting and said recalled neurology patients would take reassurance from the harm assessments.

"While the Department of Health has yet to release official figures, I know of a number of neurology recall patients who have been told they were incorrectly diagnosed and on the wrong treatment plan," she said.

"In some cases patients have been over-diagnosed, in others they have been completely misdiagnosed and were taking medication and undergoing procedures for conditions they never had.

"As this devastating news begins to sink in, patients are now worrying about what impact taking medication they never needed in some cases for several years has had on their health and what the long term consequences might be."

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