An independent inquiry, chaired by a barrister, is to review a major health controversy, affecting more than 2,500 neurology patients in Northern Ireland. 

The review panel will focus on those under the care of consultant Dr Michael Watt and will examine concerns that some of the patients may have been misdiagnosed. 

Many of those involved are being treated for significant health challenges including Multiple Sclerosis, Motor Neurone Disease and Parkinson's Disease.

The panel led by Brett Lockhart QC will review the processes initiated by the Belfast Health Trust since concerns about the neurology service came to light. 

It will also assess whether any concerns or complaints related to Dr Watt prior to December 2016 should have provided the grounds for earlier intervention.

Last week Dr Watt's patients were told their care would be reviewed but since then the Belfast Health Trust has struggled to meet the resultant demand for consultations. 

As well as being the clinician dealing with significant numbers of patients in the NHS public system, Dr Watt also held clinics for private patients.

In addition to today's announcement, the Department of Health in the North has asked the Regulation Quality and Improvement Authority (RQIA) to review the records of all patients or former patients of Dr Watt who have died over the past 10 years.

Conditions have also been imposed on Dr Watt by the Medical Practitioners Tribunal Service after a referral by the General Medical Council.