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The probe into neurologist Dr Michael Watt will take place in two periods at the Medical Practitioners Tribunal Service (MPTS) next month and in October/November.

It comes after an earlier decision for him to be voluntarily erased from the medical register was quashed.

The first period of the hearing will run from September 4-8, the second from October 17 to November 6.

The panel will consider Dr Watt’s behaviour and if it was “unacceptable in the areas of maintaining professional performance, assessment, clinical management, record keeping and relationship with patients”.

More than 5,000 of Dr Watt’s former patients were invited to have their cases examined for possible misdiagnoses, including patients who were treated for stroke, Parkinson’s disease and multiple sclerosis.

The Belfast Trust previously apologised to the patients who “suffered avoidable and unnecessary harm whilst under the care of Dr Watt”.

Last year a review by the Royal College of Physicians into 44 deaths revealed a misdiagnosis rate of 45% among this group of patients — twice that for living patients.

Around one in five of his patients had their diagnosis changed when 2,500 cases were reviewed.

In March this year a hearing at the High Court challenging Dr Watt’s voluntary erasure was told he appeared to have been given a “get out of jail free card” while patients were denied public scrutiny of their medical care.

Dr Watt relinquished his medical registration in 2021, but following the successful judicial review he was put back on the register.

During a tribunal in April, Mr Justice McAlinden described the process where the neurologist’s request was heard without the necessary jurisdiction as a “fiasco”.

He had been handed a 12-month interim suspension, allowing time for the MPTS to fix a hearing date.

Last year police were also urged to launch a formal investigation after an expert review found “significant failures” in the treatment of patients under the neurologist’s care.

SDLP MLA Colin McGrath welcomed announcement of hearing.

“It should have taken place a long time ago and it’s disappointing that patients have had to fight to get this far,” he said.

“There remain serious questions to answer and it is appropriate that they are now being looked at by the tribunal.

“The whole situation casts a long shadow over our health service and it’s important that lessons are learned so that nothing like this can ever take place again.

“However, we will be unable to fully move on until this case is properly examined and patients feel that their experiences have been heard and taken on board.”

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