Review Launched Of Northern Ireland Neurology Services

The Department of Health (DoH) has launched a regional review of neurology services due to the "unacceptably long" waiting lists.

It follows the biggest recall Northern Ireland has ever seen, when over 3,000 patients of consultant neurologist Dr Michael Watt had their conditions and treatment plans reviewed.

The overhaul, which was announced on Wednesday 19 December, will identify the optimal service configuration for the neurology sector over the next 10 to 15 years.

Permanent Secretary of the DoH, Richard Pengelly said: "I recognise that neurology services have been under significant pressure for some time, and that waiting lists have become unacceptably long. This review will drive improvements both through the identification of initiatives which can be taken forward quickly, as well as the identification of longer term strategic reforms.

"The Department is committed to ensuring that the voice of service users and carers is central to the review. To that end, we will be working closely with the Northern Ireland Neurological Charities Alliance to design and deliver a programme of engagement to achieve this."
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The changing demand will be addressed throughout the study with the hope of remodelling the service to improve the care delivered to neurology patients across the region.

It will also consider the feasibility of new innovative treatments and the scope for development of new clinical roles as well as the potential to develop the sector through joint services, delivered on a cross border basis.

The Review Team will be led by consultant neurologist Dr John Craig: "I very much welcome this review and the tremendous opportunity it brings to transform our services for patients, their families, and our staff. I am pleased to be leading the review and look forward to working not just with colleagues from across the whole service, but I am especially keen to work with those who use our services and so to ensure their voices are heard and are central to the future of neurology care in Northern Ireland."

Consideration will also be given to possible ways of improving how the sector is governed, and how the recall of Dr Watt's patients in the Belfast Trust can be learned from. Recommendations included in the report on outpatient services by the Regulation and Quality Improvement Authority will also be implemented.

An interim report is expected by March 2019, along with an implementation and investment plan to be completed by June 2019.


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