Inquiry will examine neurology patient care concerns

Belfast City Hospital where the Belfast Trust has its headquarters
Belfast City Hospital where the Belfast Trust has its headquarters

An independent inquiry will examine whether the Belfast Trust could have had earlier warning of potential neurology patient care concerns.

The decision to launch an inquiry follows a review of patient notes relating to consultant neurologist Michael Watt and the recall of more than 2,500 patients.

The inquiry will be conducted by chairman Brett Lockhart QC and Dr Hugo Mascie-Taylor.

Mr Lockhart said: “I very much welcome the finalisation of the terms of reference and, in particular, the involvement of Dr Hugo Mascie-Taylor, who has significant experience in clinical governance. I am conscious of the level of public interest and concern and a preliminary report will be produced as soon as practicable with the final report issued on the completion and review of all other relevant actions initiated by the department.”

Sinn Fein MLA Pat Sheehan said: “I have a number of questions for the Department of Health about the terms of reference for the independent inquiry panel which need to be robust enough to get to the truth of the neurology scandal.

“Sinn Féin wants a guarantee that the evidence collected and the panel’s final report will be made public. The scale of this scandal is unprecedented and the least those affected deserve is a panel that can get to the truth.”

SDLP deputy leader Nichola Mallon said it is “important that we now have openness and transparency about what exactly happened and what changes are required to prevent the possibility of this happening again.”

Ms Mallon added: “There is also no detail as yet on how patients will have their voices heard and how their vital knowledge and experiences will be taken into account. There is mounting frustration and anger among patients that no one is talking to them or listening to them.

“The inquiry must provide the space and confidence for them to be heard.”