Victims Claim Symphysiotomy was Medical Negligence

A spokesperson for the Survivors of Symphysiotomy has claimed that the group will not enter into mediation over compensation while the government fail to acknowledge that the practise of symphysiotomy was medical negligence.

Survivors of Symphysiotomy chair – Marie O´Connor – was speaking at an emergency general meeting convened in Dublin to discuss proposals from Minister for Health James Reilly that the support group should participate in a negotiated mediation to obtain compensation for survivors of the barbaric 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 – stating that the system proposed by James Reilly “seeks to buy their silence”. 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 and, by the government denying that symphysiotomy was 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.

Two other survivor support groups – Patient Focus and SOS Ltd – have indicated that they are in favour of Minister Reilly´s proposals, saying it could be less traumatic and time consuming for the victims; 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.