Northern Ireland Neurology Inquiry: Final Comments
The Independent Neurology Inquiry concluded that the combined effect of the failures ensured that patterns in the consultant’s work were missed for approximately a decade. 5,448 patients were eligible for recall and 4,179 people attended appointments.
It was established that approximately 1 in 5 patients were not given appropriate treatment or a management plan for their condition and a similar number of patients were given an inappropriate prescription for their condition.
Amongst other findings, the report established several missed opportunities. Dr Watt came to the attention of the then Medical Director due to a series of administrative concerns. At or about the same time, the Trust, including the Medical Director, was involved in handling two significant and complex clinical complaints relating to Dr Watt. Dr Watt also received a five-year warning from the GMC, but this warning was not communicated to Dr Watt’s line managers in the Trust. Consequently, opportunities to intervene at an earlier stage were lost and it was noted that if concerns had been addressed as early as 2006, many instances of misdiagnoses could have been prevented.
The inquiry, chaired by Brett Lockhart QC, has recommended that Northern Ireland’s Department of Health should review its guidance in relation to complaints to ensure that patient safety is the overriding objective. The report, released on Tuesday, highlights concern with management and found a culture of medical professionals “apprehensive in raising a concern about the practice of a colleague or querying discrepancies that arose”.
We welcome the above updates and will continue to make progress in the resolution of claims pursued on behalf of Dr Watt’s former patients.