Calls for police investigation after Dr Michael Watt removed from medical register

Families and former patients are calling for a police investigation after consultant neurologist Michael Watt was struck off the medical register.

Today, a tribunal found his removal was the only available option to protect 'patients and maintain public confidence'. Dr Watt was at the centre of Northern Ireland's largest recall of patients after concerns were raised about his clinical practice at the Royal Victoria hospital in Belfast.

UTV spoke to some of the people who were misdiagnosed.

Danielle O'Neill speaks on her experience: "It's been a very, very long road to get here, a constant battle to get to this point"

"If we haven't taken the judicial review, we would never have gotten this decision today"

"He initially diagnosed me with Hashimoto's encephalopathy (HE) a very rare brain disease. I trusted him implicitly, I believed in what he was saying. I thought that I was really ill.

"Then he said I also had a leak in the cerebral spinal fluid so he then decided to do a epidural blood patch that was probably one of the most horrific things I have ever been through.

He also treated me with epilepsy medication that I should never have been on."

Patricia Grogan, the daughter of a woman who was misdiagnosed and since died about this latest development said, "Myself and my sister believe its something that should have happened in 2018.

"It then should have happened in 2021 and only for the victims of Michael Watt, I don't think it would have happened."

Michael Watt was a consultant neurologist at the Royal Victoria Hospital in Belfast until 2017. The following year more than 4,000 of his patients attended recall appointments amid concerns over his clinical practice. A previous tribunal granted the consultant neurologist voluntary removal from the medical register. But following a campaign by those affected the High Court in Belfast quashed that ruling due to concerns it was "not sufficient to protect the public". And now a new tribunal has agreed to strike him off. The new tribunal began its hearing in September when it was told a performance report into Dr Watt in 2018 found that there was a persistent failure to take adequate histories from patients and carry out clinical examinations. It also stated there was persistent and repeated failure to make correct diagnoses, resulting in patients receiving inappropriate management which included drugs with serious and toxic side effects and unnecessary invasive treatment. An independent inquiry which was published last year found opportunities to intervene by the Belfast trust were missed as early as 2006.

Earlier in the hearings a legal representative for Dr Watt withdrew from the hearing, expressing concern around his client's mental health. The hearings proceeded without him. The neurology recall patient support group is now calling for a police investigation into Dr Michael Watt. In a statement the PSNI said: "Police are aware of the decision from the Medical Practioners Tribunal Service.

"We will now consider the findings of the tribunal in conjunction with a number of existing related reports.

UTV have reached out to Dr Michael Watt's legal team but have yet to receive a response.

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