Neurology Inquiry

The Patient and Client Council is working with individuals, families and community and voluntary sector organisations in relation to the neurology recall.

The establishment of an Independent Neurology Inquiry was announced by the Permanent Secretary of the Department of Health in May 2018. On the 11th December 2020, the Minister for Health Robin Swann MLA converted the Independent Neurology Inquiry from a non-statutory public inquiry to a statutory public inquiry. The Inquiry Panel will carry out an independent statutory inquiry of an inquisitorial nature. Brett Lockhart QC, Chairperson of the Neurology Inquiry has outlined within his statement (11th January 2021) details on the conversion and what that means for the workings of the inquiry and those affected by their work.

The Chairman has written to the Patient Client Council in relation to the Inquiry conversion to ensure that patients are aware of the changes brought about by the conversion and what it means for them.

January 2021 – Letter from INI Chairperson to PCC

INI Chairman’s Statement 

March 2021 – B Lockhart QC to V McConvey PCC

Please also see: Operation Begrain | PSNI re: Detectives from PSNI Major Investigation Team launched Operation Begrain, an investigation into the clinical practices of Michael Watt, former Consultant Neurologist on Tuesday, 28th November 2023.

March 2024

Department of Health published the Independent Neurology Inquiry (INI) Action Plan, outlining how the 76 recommendations of the Independent Neurology Inquiry Report are being addressed.

The Plan can be found on the Department of Health’s website.

July 2023

The Independent Neurology Inquiry (INI) Implementation Plan was published. It is an overarching in response to the INI Report which was published in June 2022. Further details can be found on the Department of Health’s website.

April 2023

The Department of Health published an Addendum to the Neurology Recall Cohort 3 Activity and Outcomes Report and Neurology Recall Summary Report. The report can be accessed of the Department of Health’s website.

January 2023

The Belfast Trust issued a Neurology Recall Compensation Update. The Belfast Trust confirmed to patients impacted by the Neurology Recall that they have until 21st June 2025 if they intend to issue legal proceedings against the Trust.

June 2022

Click the following link to view the report of the Independent Neurology Inquiry Independent Neurology Inquiry

Minister Swann announced the publication for the neurology recall cohort 3 activities and outcomes report, neurology recall summary report and neurology compensation arrangements. The statement can be accessed through this link Neurology recall reports issued | Department of Health

If you have been affected by the Belfast Trust’s recall of neurology patients and would like to be connect into to this work please feel free to contact us on 0800 917 0222 for more information.

November 2021

The Professional Standards Authority filed an appeal against the decision of the Medical Practitioners Tribunal of the General Medical Council (‘the Tribunal’) granting voluntary erasure to Dr Michael Watt. Further details can be found by visiting Authority appeals Medical Practitioners Tribunal decision – Michael Watt

July 2021

The Inquiry Chairman provided an update in relation to the Inquiry’s work. Further details can be found by visiting Inquiry Chairman provides an update – 26th July 2021

An Update on Neurology Patient Engagement – July 2021

On 1 May 2018, Belfast Health and Social Care Trust (Belfast Trust) announced a recall of 2,500 patients in relation to concerns regarding the clinical practice of Dr Watt, a consultant neurologist employed by the Belfast Trust. On 2 May 2018, the Permanent Secretary to the Department of Health announced the establishment of an Independent Neurology Inquiry to review the recall of neurology patients by the Belfast Trust.  The Health Minister converted this inquiry to a Statutory Public Inquiry on 11 December 2020, under the Inquiries Act 2005.

In December 2019 the Department of Health published the Outcomes Report relating to the initial recall of approximately 2,500 Neurology patients and provided a commitment to consider anyone who had previously been seen by Dr Watt and discharged. A second recall was announced in October 2018 involving a further 1,044 patients. In the context that a significant proportion of the Cohort 2 patients did have an insecure diagnosis, the decision was made to review a third cohort of Dr Watt’s patients.

Over the past year the PCC has been engaging a number of these patients to support them to have their voices heard during this process. The primary purpose of this work is to enhance communication between the organisations tasked with progressing the various stages of the recall such as the Belfast Trust, the Health and Social Care Board and the Department of Health and the patients affected by it. We are working with community and voluntary sector charities through the NI Neurological Charity Alliance and with two patient support groups of around 200 patients represented by a small number of their chosen individuals. To date this work has been largely formed by ad hoc meetings that coincide with recall developments. However PCC’s focus is to develop a consistent Engagement Platform which will offer defined terms of reference to support the function of the forum with defined objectives. We will also ensure accountability for proportionate representation and improve communication to and with all stakeholders. Composition of the forum hopes to include individual and collective representation of patients, the community and voluntary sector, lobbying and advocacy groups, political representatives and the Patient Client Council.