Parties Updated On Response To Neurology Patient Recall

Permanent Secretary Richard Pengelly and Chief Medical Officer, Dr Michael McBride, have updated NI's political parties a detailed update on the actions being taken in response to the neurology patient recall announced by the Belfast Health and Social Care Trust.

A series of actions have been initiated by the Department for Health in response to the recall of patients.

These include the announcement of an independent inquiry panel chaired by Brett Lockhart QC to examine the handling of the recall process.

MLAs were told that the second panel member has been appointed, Dr Hugo Mascie-Taylor, bringing a strong clinical leadership input to the inquiry's work.

The Departmental officials gave a commitment at the meeting to maintain detailed communication with elected representatives and stakeholders as the recall processes continue.

MLAs were also updated on the work being taken forward by the RQIA. This includes a review of governance of outpatient services in the Belfast HSC Trust with a particular focus on neurology services. The terms of reference for this review have been made public today.

The RQIA is assembling a highly experienced dedicated team to undertake this review. The team will include Dr Dave Evans, former Medical Director and Interim Chief Executive Northumbria Healthcare NHSC Foundation Trust, England; Ms Amanda Stanford, Deputy Chief Inspector of Hospitals, Care Quality Commission, England; and Dr Donagh McDonagh, General Practitioner Elmwood Medical Practice, Dunluce Health Centre, Belfast.
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In a separate review, the RQIA has also been asked ensure that the records of all patients or former patients of Dr Michael Watt who have died over the past ten years are subject to expert review.

Families of deceased patients of Dr Watt can currently contact RQIA by calling 028 95 361111 and asking for the neurology review help desk. RQIA will be establishing a dedicated helpline in the coming days.

RQIA has established an internal steering group to oversee the two reviews. Patricia Gordon from the MS Society will act as a patient representative on this group.

The Department will also be examining options for a potential redress scheme for patients found to have suffered adverse impacts from inappropriate or incorrect diagnoses. A final decision on redress arrangements will rest with Ministers.

Mr Pengelly said: "This obviously remains an extremely distressing and trying time for patients and their families.

"The central focus remains on ensuring that the recalled patients are assessed as swiftly as possible. I would like to pay tribute and say thank you to the neurology doctors, nurses, AHP professionals and indeed all staff involved in this vital recall work."

Dr McBride, added: "The appointment of Brett Lockhart QC and Dr Hugo Mascie-Taylor to the inquiry panel is a very clear sign of how seriously the Department is treating this whole issue. It is always a very difficult time when the service falls short of the high standards rightly expected by the public.

"It is essential that concerted action is taken and that lessons are learned for the benefit of patients."


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