Public apology to neurology patients over recall
Neurology patients affected by Northern Ireland's biggest health recall have received an apology from the Department of Health's top civil servant.
Over 2,500 people are being reassessed after an independent review of medical notes relating to the work of consultant neurologist Dr Michael Watt.
Permanent secretary, Richard Pengelly, said the health and social care services "apologised unreservedly".
- Belfast patient recall: What we know
- Biggest recall ever of NI patients
- Belfast recall patients speak out
Mr Pengelly told a conference in Templepatrick, County Antrim, that a review into the issue would be "open and robust".
He insisted that anything less than complete cooperation from all parts of the system "will simply not be acceptable".
Neurology is the treatment of brain conditions including MS, Parkinson's Disease, stroke and Motor Neurone Disease - all of which can be life-changing.
The recall has left many patients very concerned about the potential for misdiagnosis, however, many of Dr Watt's former patients have expressed support and gratitude for the care he provided.
Some patients praised his bedside manner but admitted to being concerned about his workload.
Dr Watt is an experienced consultant neurologist employed at the Royal Victoria and City hospitals in Belfast.
As well as his NHS work, he also treated private patients at the Ulster Independent Clinic and Hillsborough Private Clinic.
The Belfast Health Trust became aware of a potential problem with his work in December 2016, when a formal concern was raised by a GP.
He has not seen any patients since June 2017 but the trust's concerns were only made public at the beginning of this month.
The patients affected by the recall have been offered a full clinical assessment by another consultant neurologist.
The trust has organised 200 additional clinics over a three-month period, and the re-assessments began on 5 May.
The General Medical Council has said it will investigate the misdiagnosis concerns.
The Department of Health has also asked for a review of the records of all patients or former patients of Dr Watt who have died over the past 10 years.