Health

Tuesday 29 July 2014

Women deny health claims will 'bankrupt' the Coombe

Stephen McMahon,Chairman of the  Irish Patients Association. Picture: Tom Burke
Stephen McMahon,Chairman of the Irish Patients Association. Picture: Tom Burke

SURVIVORS of the barbaric birth operation symphysiotomy have rejected suggestions their claims for compensation could plunge the busy Coombe Hospital into bankruptcy.

The comments of the campaign group come amid revelations that the maternity facility was not adequately insured at the time.

It has emerged that risk managers at the busiest maternity hospital in the country have been warned that forthcoming compensation claims could "impact on delivery of services posed by the financial liability".

It follows reports the hospital did not have full insurance before 1961. This could result in a lack of cover to provide for possible financial liabilities associated with at least 14 confirmed claims related to symphysiotomy procedures carried out on women at the hospital between 1950 and 1967.

Irish Patients Association chairman Stephen McMahon warned of "potential bankruptcy", pleading for the cases to be resolved for the sake of the victims and to prevent costly court cases.

However, a medical source dismissed suggestions of bankruptcy, saying the health service "would not let that happen". The source pointed out the Government is pressing forward with a redress scheme and suggested that most survivors would be satisfied, though "one or two" might still "insist on going to court".

A spokesperson for the Coombe Hospital declined to comment.

Chairwoman of Survivors of Symphysiotomy Marie O'Connor said a figure of €8m estimated as being the cost of compensation for the women was "exaggerated".

But she warned that survivors would reject a "Magdalene-type redress scheme", which is expected to be offered by the Health Minister in coming weeks. "The fact of the matter is that such a scheme cannot constitute an effective remedy," she said.

It is understood the Coombe was "fourth or fifth" down the league table in terms of hospitals that permitted symphysiotomies to be carried out, with Drogheda top of the list.

In a statement, the Department of Health said Minister James Reilly was examining the report of retired Circuit Court Judge Yvonne Murphy into the issue and would bring a memorandum to Government "in the coming weeks".

Irish Independent

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