Transparency around Michael Watt essential to victims and to wider public, says Bradshaw

Alliance Health spokesperson Paula Bradshaw MLA has commended the courage of the victims of Michael Watt, after a judicial review confirmed he will have to face a fitness to practise hearing.

Health Paula Bradshaw

The neurologist was at the centre of Northern Ireland’s biggest recall of patients, with over 2,500 of those in his care having their cases reviewed. The Medical Practitioners Tribunal Service allowed him to voluntarily remove himself from the medical register in 2021, meaning he would not face a public hearing about the fitness to practice. However, Mr Justice McAlinden has now quashed that decision, calling it a “fiasco”.

“No words can do justice to the suffering inflicted by this scandal over many years, and to the courage demonstrated by the victims of it in ensuring the truth of what occurred must be made public,” said South Belfast MLA Ms Bradshaw.

“The volumes of the Independent Neurology Inquiry provide a concerning and often chilling insight into a catalogue of events which caused immense harm to thousands of people. They speak of extremely troubling systemic failings by the authorities, including fundamentally obvious opportunities to intervene in the interests of public safety were missed.

“The fact remains, however, this catalogue of events centres around one individual, who continued to practise while doing immeasurable harm. There can be no shrinking of responsibility in that regard. Victims, and the wider public, have an absolute right to know what happened, both in the interests of patient safety and of healthcare improvement so that no such catalogue of harm may ever be repeated.

“It is evident this judicial review was merely another attempt to avoid a day of reckoning. That day must come in the public interest. I salute the ongoing courage of victims in ensuring it will.”