This separate review looking at the deaths of these 44 patients arose from a 2018 recall of 2,500 outpatients who were under Dr Watt’s care at the Belfast Health Trust until his departure in 2017. Among other findings, the review reported a misdiagnosis rate of 45% among this group of patients, twice that for living patients, and found there to have been “significant failures in their treatment" and "poor communication with families".
Paula stated: “Having spoken with the families of victims and heard their shocking testimonies, sadly the outcome of this review comes as no surprise. Consistently we heard of a dismissive attitude and a lack of response to genuine concerns. The catalogue of failures, including blatant misdiagnoses and invasive and unnecessary treatment, is tragic but is now well known to those of us working with those affected.
“This will leave huge numbers of people in Northern Ireland, including some who fell within the scope of the review but also the many who did not, with unanswered questions. There are many other cohorts, both of families of those who died and of survivors who were in Michael Watt’s care, who also need to have their testimonies heard.
“It is essential that the families of victims who died have access to considerably more services than is currently the case, not just to find out the truth of what happened to their loved ones or to seek appropriate redress, but also to benefit from wider ranging bereavement support.
“There will naturally also be unanswered questions for survivors of misdiagnosis and invasive treatment, many of whom also need more holistic care and support.
“I’m meeting with the Royal College of Physicians today to discuss these findings and, along with my Alliance Party colleagues, we will do all we can, despite the current deadlock, to ensure that support is available and those who need to be held to account are held to account.”