The Regulation and Quality Improvement Authority (RQIA) has published a report after investigating the misconduct of a Northern Irish neurologist.

Michael Watt, who worked under the Belfast Health and Social Care Trust, is said to have possibly misdiagnosed patients numbering into the thousands.

Many of his patients were older, dealing with conditions like Parkinson’s, stroke and multiple sclerosis.

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RQIA’s report was into 44 deceased patients who were under his care.

The review found that there were significant failures in the care and treatment of patients.

The investigating panel highlighted concerns over clinical decision-making, diagnostic approach, communications with other clinicians, and poor communication with patients and with families.

The panel also reported that they were deeply saddened by the accounts provided by families.

Announcing the publication of the report, RQIA’s chair, Christine Collins, said: “I commend the courage and openness of all those families who came forward to engage in this Review.

“Family accounts starkly illustrate how failings by an individual practitioner, and by the system, led to deep human impacts and resulting harm, both to the deceased patients and to their bereaved families.”

“While this process has been difficult and may not have produced the outcome sought by some families, RQIA sincerely thanks every family for their patience, their personal commitment and the invaluable contribution they have made on behalf of their loved ones.

“As Northern Ireland’s independent regulator for health and social care, the authority is committed to using its role and powers to ensure that the recommendations within this report are implemented.”

RQIA’s chief executive, Briege Donaghy, said: “Our staff, have been deeply moved through our involvement with the bereaved families.

“We are determined that the actions we take, driven by the findings from this Review, will improve clinical practice, the safety of services and the experience of patients and of families.”

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