The Health Minister, Dr. James Reilly, in response to criticism from the Sinn Fein health spokesperson in the Dail on the 26th of September 2013, rejected suggestions that it is Department of Health policy to delay dealing with symphysiotomy survivors until all of the women are dead.

Dr. Reilly confirmed that his Department had asked the Attorney General to approach a number of Judges with a view to appointing a Judge to oversee a Redress Scheme for the survivors of symphysiotomy. He stated that this process was presently underway and that discussions were taking place with a Judge for the purpose of identifying how to best proceed to address the needs of the women affected by symphysiotomy

He further stated that this Judge would make recommendations on how to expedite the issue. Dr. Reilly did not indicate a time frame for this process to be concluded or when he envisaged the relevant Redress Board to be put in place.

Minister Reilly also indicated that the government will allow survivors of the procedure to seek compensation either through the courts or in a separate redress scheme by an appointed Judge.

Some survivors of the procedure say a court process could take too long and that many could die before their case is heard.

Dr. Reilly said back in April that the government would accept a Bill to lift the statutory bar for symphysiotomy survivors.

The symphysiotomy procedure was carried out on women before childbirth, leaving them with chronic pain and health complications. Dr. Reilly has previously said it is difficult to understand why the practice continued for so long.

A group representing survivors of symphysiotomy said last month that they will not accept ‘Magdalene-style’ compensation. The Survivors of Symphysiotomy group said its members are the victims of medical negligence and deserve their day in court.

The Minister says he has asked the Attorney-General to help set up a redress scheme.

Trish Hynes is a solicitor in FitzGerald Solicitors specialising in medical negligence litigation. FitzGerald Solicitors is located at 6 Lapps Quay Cork


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