DoH responds to Expert Review of Records of Deceased Patients of Dr Watt

Date published: 29 November 2022

The Department notes the publication of the Expert Review of Records of Deceased Patients of Dr Watt (2008-2018) Phase Two today by the RQIA.

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The findings published today are deeply concerning, and it is recognised they will be distressing for families involved in the Phase Two process.

The Department would like to thank the families involved for their significant engagement throughout this exceptionally difficult process. On behalf of the wider HSC system, the Department apologises to them for the significant healthcare failings that have been identified.

The Department very much welcomes the RQIA’s commitment in taking forward the recommendations from the Phase Two review and its work to address the strategic issues identified.

The Department would like to thank the RQIA and the Royal College of Physicians team for their comprehensive work and detailed engagement with the families.  

The Department and the RQIA will assess the findings from Phase Two to inform next steps in the review of deceased patients’ records.  All material factors will be taken into consideration for any future phases of this work.  This will include taking account of the lessons learned, addressing expectations of the families of deceased patients, and making best use of limited health care resources.

Notes to editors: 

  • In May 2018, the Department asked the RQIA to commission an Expert Review of the clinical case notes of the patients of Dr Michael Watt who died in the 10 years prior to the neurology recall (i.e. the “Deceased Patients Review”).
  • Phase One, which was a preparatory phase concluded in November 2020 with the formal adoption of a Legal Framework to ensure access to the relevant records.
  • Phase Two pertains to the expert review of clinical records (involving 45 patient records) comprising:
    • 29 deceased patients whose family members have approached the RQIA with concerns; and;
    • 16 patients who were included in the Belfast Trust’s Cohort 1 neurology recall but unfortunately died before either attending or completing their re-assessment.
  • The Independent Neurology Inquiry (INI) Report was published on 21 June 2022 and includes a total of 76 recommendations.  It is very clear from the recommendations that patient safety is the paramount principle.  The Department of Health has established a governance structure, the INI Implementation Programme, to oversee the implementation of the INI Report recommendations. The Programme Board, chaired by Permanent Secretary, convened for the first time on 6 October 2022.
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  • The Executive Information Service operates an out of hours service For Media Enquiries Only between 1800hrs and 0800hrs Monday to Friday and at weekends and public holidays. The duty press officer can be contacted on 028 9037 8110.

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