Police launch investigation into clinical practices of former neurologist Michael Watt

Police launch investigation into clinical practices of former neurologist Michael Watt

POLICE officers in Northern Ireland have launched an investigation into the clinical practices of former consultant neurologist Michael Watt.

Detectives from the PSNI confirmed today that Operation Begrain is now active.

In 2018 Watt was at the centre of Northern Ireland's largest ever recall of patients. More than 5,000 of his patients were recalled due to concerns about his clinical practice.

Detective Chief Inspector Neil McGuinness, who will jointly lead the investigation with Detective Inspector Gina Quinn, said: “Michael Watt worked for the Belfast Health and Social Care Trust, and also held private clinics at Hillsborough Private Clinic and the Ulster Independent Clinic.

“We are appealing to former patients, or their next of kin and representatives, who wish to report concerns regarding their medical treatment by Michael Watt, to contact police.”

The PSNI have created a dedicated online reporting platform on its website so make it “as easy as possible” for people to report their concerns.

It includes a QR code and link to the Major Incident Public Portal, where there are two separate online forms with a number of key questions to be completed.

One is for or on behalf of patients and the other is for representatives of patients who have died.

For anyone unable to use the online reporting facility, the PSNI have created a helpline number, which operates between 9.30am and 3.30pm from Monday to Friday.

“We recognise wholeheartedly that this will be a harrowing time for many, Det Chf Insp McGuinness added.

“Importantly, the webpage includes details of various available support networks.”

Detective Inspector Gina Quinn outlined the process that will follow reports being received.

She said: “In the weeks following your report, you will receive a letter by email from the investigation team explaining how you can contact the team in the future and outlining to you what the next steps will be.

“Once we have a better understanding of how many people wish to engage with police we will be able to update on predicted timeframes.

“What I can say with confidence at this stage though is it will be a long, protracted and complex investigation.

“We realise this will be a traumatic time for many people and we will endeavour to give regular updates throughout this investigation.”

The helpline number 0800 051 6071  will operate between 9.30am and 3.30pm from Monday to Friday.  For further information in relation to Operation Begrain email [email protected].