The Department of Health has published the Outcomes Report for the first cohort of neurology patients whose treatment has been reviewed by the Belfast Trust.
The Department had intended to publish the report in the summer but this was postponed due to highly sensitive unforeseen circumstances.
It had been made clear that the position would be kept under review and that we hoped to publish the report as quickly as possible.
The Department remains unable to comment on the nature of the unforeseen circumstances, due to their sensitivity.
However, we are now satisfied that the conditions exist to allow us to publish this report.
We regret the delay in publication and any additional concerns it may have caused. However, it has not delayed a series of important ongoing actions being taken, including the work of the independent inquiry panel.
Although the main purpose of the recall was to ensure that patients are now receiving the correct treatment, the clinicians conducting the review were also asked to consider whether the diagnosis was secure; that a proper management was in place; and that prescribing was appropriate.
The outcomes report shows that of the 2,952 patients assessed by the reviewing clinicians, 2,006 (68.0%) had a diagnosis that was considered to be secure, 617 (20.9%) had a diagnosis that was considered to be not secure whilst for 329 (11.1%) patients there was uncertainty in respect of whether the previous diagnosis was secure.
It is important to note that a diagnosis which is now considered to be not secure does not automatically equate to a misdiagnosis.
Similar proportions of these patients were considered to not have a proper management plan in place and had not received appropriate prescriptions.
The unprecedented scale of the recall of patients was required to determine if patients were receiving the correct care and treatment.
The Department recognises that this recall of patients has rightly been scrutinised by all who have been affected, their political representatives and the media. We have established several independent routes of inquiry to establish the facts that led to the need for the recall. It is therefore important that we await the findings of these inquiries in order to ensure that all those who have been caught up in this situation have the opportunity to have their views heard in an objective manner.
The Department and Belfast Trust have apologised to affected patients and we would wish to reiterate and underline those apologies today.
It is highly regrettable that one person should have to go through this experience, let alone the large numbers that have been involved.
Tribute must again be paid to all staff involved in the recall, from the clinical teams who carried out the assessments to the administration staff and those who manned the telephone lines and provided practical support in other ways. We would also wish to acknowledge the significant support provided by the neurology charities.
The Department expects to publish a further Outcomes Report in early 2020 for the second cohort of recalled patients, at which time there will be an announcement on whether any further recall is considered necessary. The second cohort covered specific groups of patients previously seen by the consultant neurologist and subsequently discharged to the care of their GP.
Notes to editors:
- The Outcome Report can be viewed on the Department’s website at https://www.health-ni.gov.uk/neurologyoutcomesreport
- For patient information on the neurology recall please visit the Belfast Trust website http://www.belfasttrust.hscni.net/neurology-recall-update.htm
- The advice line for patients remains open, details are as follows: Monday to Friday 9am-5pm (except public holidays) telephone: 0800 980 1100
- For media enquiries please contact the Department of Health Press Office team on 028 9052 0575 or email email@example.com. For out of hours please contact the Duty Press Officer on 028 9037 1180.
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