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  • Writer's pictureMichelle Weir (Local Democracy Reporter)

Northern Trust looking to see if “any lessons” to be learnt

The Northern Health and Social Care Trust board has moved to offer an assurance following the publication of the Independent Neurology Inquiry Report.

Chair Bob McCann told a meeting of the board on Thursday morning that the Northern Trust will be going through the report to ascertain if there are “any lessons” to be learned in the board area.

The Independent Neurology Inquiry was established by the Permanent Secretary of the Department of Health in May 2018. This was part of a series of actions taken in response to the recall of 5,000 neurology patients by the Belfast Health and Social Care Trust in relation to the practice of neurologist Dr Michael Watt.

Northern Trust board members were advised there are 31 recommendations specific to health and care trusts. Trust chief executive Jennifer Welsh commented:

“It is important to assure everybody our thoughts are with patients who have been impacted.”

Commenting on the Independent Neurology Inquiry Report, Health Minister Robin Swann, said:

“The Inquiry Panel’s report is extensive and detailed. I will ensure it is given the careful and measured consideration that it deserves.  I am determined that this analysis should happen as quickly as possible.  I undertake to provide a full response to the report’s recommendations, as soon as is practicable.

“It states that systems and processes in place to assure the public in respect of patient safety prior to November 2016 failed. Crucially, opportunities to intervene in relation to Michael Watt’s practice were missed over a number of years.

“The Inquiry Panel believes that without the then Belfast Trust’s medical director’s response in December 2016 to concerns that had been raised, and more particularly in July 2017, there is no guarantee that the problems identified in the recall would have necessarily emerged.

“It is acknowledged in the report that changes have been initiated since the neurology recall to improve patient safety. The entire HSC (Health and Social Care) system must continue building on these improvements, guided by the Inquiry Panel’s report.”


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