Mallon urges 200 patients yet to make a recall appointment to contact the Belfast Trust
SDLP Deputy Leader Nichola Mallon MLA said:
“This was a much needed opportunity to ask questions on patients’ behalf. We welcome the fact that this engagement will be fortnightly and that the Department is looking at a redress scheme but there are still many unanswered questions.
“The priority must be the recall and reassurance of all of the patients’ Dr Watt was actively treating. The Department confirmed that in addition to the 2,500 NHS patients, Dr Watt was also seeing 700 patients privately who need recalled. It is still not clear how the Ulster Independent Clinic and Hillsborough Clinic will manage their recall within the 12-week timeframe set down by the Department. From the meeting today it seems that this may fall to the Belfast Trust which is already stretched. These 700 patients need to be given clear advice and additional resource needs to be provided to the Belfast Trust to see them if needed.
“There are also questions about the plan for reassuring and supporting the 1000s of patients not recalled, but who were under the care of Dr Watt, in some cases for a number of years. These patients are in the dark. The Department said it was looking at an options paper. It needs to clearly set out the pathway for these patients at the earliest opportunity.
“There are serious questions about workload and workforce planning within our neurology services. How can one consultant have an active patient caseload of 3,200 NHS and 700 private patients? What resource is the Department for Health providing to the Belfast Trust and the neurology staff who are working tirelessly to care for existing patients, the 4,000 active patients of Dr Watt and his discharged patients going forward?
"Patients need answers to these and many more questions.
“The Department did say at this meeting that 200 patients who received the recall letter have yet to contact the Belfast Trust for an appointment. I would urge those patients to pick up the phone and make that call so they can be reassured and supported”.