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Survivors of Symphysiotomy Criticises Government Proposal

Survivors of Symphysiotomy has made a public statement which claimed that the group will not enter into mediation over compensation while the government still fail to acknowledge that the practice of symphysiotomy was medical negligence.

Marie O´Connor-the chair of the organisation-was speaking at an emergency general meeting in Dublin in response to proposals from Minister for Health James Reilly. The proposal suggested that Survivors of Symphysiotomy should participate in a negotiated mediation to obtain compensation for survivors of the dangerous medical procedure, rather than take action through the courts.

In her address to the group, Ms O´Connor said that the proposed scheme is exploitative and they do not want to be involved in it . She claimed that the government was looking to “ buy their silence” by suggesting that they don’t go through the courts. She claimed that Minister Reilly´s proposals were based on the draft findings of the government-commissioned Walsh Report, in which it was found that the majority of the symphysiotomy procedures that were carried out were “medically acceptable” under the circumstances.

Ms O´Connor argued that members of the group were betrayed by the medical professionals at the time. As the government maintains their position in not considering symphysiotomy a form of medical negligence, the victims are also being denied access to the courts and a “fair and equitable” settlement of compensation for the pain and anguish the women suffered during and after undergoing a symphysiotomy procedure.

The group has requested compensation of between €250,000 and €450,000 for each survivor of the surgery, and has called on the government to move ahead with legislation first accepted in April to remove the Statute of Limitations which time-bars their eligibility to claim compensation for symphysiotomy medical negligence.

In contrast to Survivors of Symphysiotomy’s position, two other survivor support groups – Patient Focus and SOS Ltd – have indicated that they are in favour of Minister Reilly´s proposals. They say that it could be less traumatic and time consuming for the victims, and will allow for them to put this in their past more quickly. However Ms O´Connor stated fervently that she did not want to see a Magdalene-type settlement, in which some survivors were offered as little as €11,500. “Victims will not allow themselves to be re-victimised by being forced to collude with the official line that symphysiotomy was acceptable medical practice,” she said.

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