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Published 27 June 2022
The Independent Neurology Inquiry has now published its’ findings. The Inquiry Chair, Mr Brett Lockhart QC, delivered a statement announcing the publication of the Inquiry Report on 21st June via live stream which is available to watch back on YouTube. A report comprising 5 volumes has also been published on the independent neurology inquiry website.
The inquiry followed Northern Ireland’s largest ever patient recall in 2018. Concerns were raised by a GP regarding Dr Michael Watt’s practice in November 2016. Dr Watt had been employed as a Consultant by the Belfast Trust and also had a significant private practice. Subsequent investigations revealed what has been described by the Inquiry as an ‘aberrant’ practice.
The inquiry considered;
The Inquiry identified key areas of concern and missed opportunities in 2006/07, 2012 and 2016, where the Trust could and should have intervened, examples being;
The Inquiry found fault with the governance practices, not just within the Belfast Trust, but across N. Ireland, the Independent Sector and the Regulator (GMC). Overall, it was considered that there was a failure to ‘join the dots’ in each instance of missed opportunity and that information was prevented from moving freely which caused a failure to spot the pattern emerging.
The theme of the recommendations is transparency and openness; to encourage information sharing between medical providers and the regulator and record keeping in relation to complaints and concerns. Mr Lockhart QC has placed the onus on everyone involved in the delivery of Healthcare from the Politicians to the medical professionals; from the independent sector to the regulator; to ensure that the healthcare system makes patient safety of paramount concern.
There is ongoing litigation in the High Court regarding the decision by the Medical Practitioner’s Tribunal to accede to an application for voluntary erasure by Dr Watt in 2021. This has been challenged by way of judicial review, the outcome of which is awaited.
Patients under Dr Watt’s care who have been misdiagnosed or mistreated will of course be seeking redress. The Inquiry’s conclusions about the failures within the governance systems of the Trusts, Independent Sector and Regulator opens the door for a plethora of litigation. The Professional & Commercial Risk team at DAC Beachcroft (N.Ireland) LLP are happy to assist with any queries you or your teams may have arising from the outcome of the Inquiry. Should you need any assistance, please contact Team Partner, Catriona McCorry.
+44 (0)289 041 2848
+44 (0)289 041 2817
+44 (0)289 041 2834
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