Northern Ireland news

Belfast man contacts health watchdog over late mother's care by Dr Michael Watt

Colin Armstrong holds a picture of his late mother Ruth. Picture by Mal McCann
Seanin Graham

A BELFAST man has contacted the health watchdog following concerns about his late mother's care by the consultant neurologist at the centre of a patient recall controversy.

Colin Armstrong lost his 78-year-old mother Ruth 16 years ago, just months after she was told she had an inoperable brain tumour.

The mother-of-six was a patient of Dr Watt, who admitted her to the Royal Victoria Hospital in June 2002 after she suffered a blackout.

Within a week she received the devastating news that her condition was terminal.

Mr Armstrong said he was concerned about the treatment offered to his mother and decided to get a second opinion.

"A friend of mine knew a consultant in London and I arranged to get her CT scans forwarded. He believed there was a possibility she may have been misdiagnosed and had an abscess mimicking a brain tumour," he said.

"This was a potentially serious condition but one that was treatable. They asked for a MRI scan to be carried out in Belfast but for a number of reasons this never happened."

Last week the Department of Health ordered a probe of all patients who had died over the past 10 years and who were under the care of Dr Watt.

While Mr Armstrong said he is aware his mother's case is outside the timescale, he still hopes it will be investigated by the Regulation and Quality Improvement Authority (RQIA), which has been commissioned by the department to carry out the 'expert review'.

He has written to both the RQIA and the health trust.

"I was listening to the news last Tuesday and when I heard the news about Dr Watt, I remembered immediately who he was and went and got my notes from the time," he said.

"My memory of my mother those final few months was of someone who was mentally clear but often tired and frightened as no-one told her what was going to happen.

"She would want the truth to come out."

Read more: Private doctors travelling from England to assess Dr Watt neurology recall patients


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