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Support Groups Disagree over Compensation for Symphysiotomy Operations

Groups representing the victims of medical procedures carried out in Ireland between the 1940s and 1990s, to aid childbirth as an alternative to a Caesarean Section, have publicly disagreed about the right path to take in order to recover compensation for symphysiotomy operations.

Following a meeting with Minister for Health James Reilly at the beginning of the month, Patient Focus and SOS Ltd issued a joint statement in which they supported a proposal by James Reilly to determine compensation for symphysiotomy operations through a negotiated mediation with a judge rather than litigation in the courts.

However, speaking at a Survivors of Symphysiotomy emergency general meeting in Dublin, chairperson Marie O´Connor declared that the proposed scheme is exploitative and they do not want to be involved in it – stating that the system proposed by James Reilly “seeks to buy their silence”.

Comparing it to a Magdalene-type solution, Ms O´Connor claimed that Minister Reilly´s proposals were based on the draft findings of the Walsh Report due to be published in the autumn, in which it was determined that the majority of the symphysiotomy operations that were carried out were “medically acceptable” at the time.

Ms O´Connor said that Minister Reilly is yet to openly admit that a wrong had been committed and called on the government to proceed with legislation removing the Statute of Limitations for symphysiotomy claims, which first passed its Private Members Bill stage back in April, but has since failed to progress to committee stage.

Survivors of Symphysiotomy are seeking compensation for symphysiotomy operations of between €250,000 and €450,000 for each victim and have argued that, by not acknowledging that hospitals and medical practitioners were negligent when performing symphysiotomy procedures, the government is denying victims access to justice and a “fair and equitable” settlement of their claims.

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