A decision to allow a neurologist to voluntarily remove himself from the medical register is due to be re-listed before a new independent tribunal.

Dr Michael Watt, Consultant Neurologist, was at the centre of the large patient recall by the Belfast Health and Social Care Trust accused of carrying out hundreds of unnecessary procedures. Over a seven-year period between 2009 and 2017, Dr Watt performed 261 blood patches, of which more than 160 were carried out in 2015 and 2016.

A blood patch expert, Dr Simon Bricker, told BBC Spotlight that an anaesthetist should perform blood patches and that these figures were “extraordinarily high”. Dr Bricker said that “somebody doing epidural blood patches in very large numbers should raise red flags straight away.”

The Medical Practitioners Tribunal of the General Medical Council (‘the Tribunal’) granting voluntary erasure to Dr Michael Watt.  This meant that he would not face a public hearing about any fitness to practise issues.

  The Tribunal’s decision was appealed by the PSA but they lost the case because the court found that the PSA did not have the jurisdiction.

It has now been reported by the BBC that the High Court upheld a legal challenge from two previous patients.  This means the matter will be remitted to a new and independent tribunal.

A spokesperson for MPTS said they would consider the judgment for “learning points that impact future tribunal decision-making”.

A GMC spokesperson said that Dr Watt’s patients had “suffered immense harm”.

“On two occasions GMC decision makers refused to grant Dr Watt voluntary erasure from the register, and we were extremely disappointed that a Medical Practitioners Tribunal allowed his application for voluntary erasure in October 2021,” the council said.

‘We have always been clear that it was in the public interest for the case to be heard by an independent tribunal in a transparent way, and we hope that patients will have the opportunity to hear the allegations against Dr Watt at a fresh tribunal.”

Dr Michael Watt


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