Monday 18 December 2017

Former victims of Michael Neary accuse health minister of breaking compensation promise

Eilish O’Regan

A GROUP of women who were victims of disgraced obstetrician Michael Neary have today accused the government of reneging on a pre-election promise to include them in a compensation scheme.

The 35 women lost out on the original scheme, set up under Judge Maureen Harding Clarke, which compensated nearly 200 of his other patients. That scheme cost over €20m.

The excluded women, who include patients who had their ovaries wrongly removed, were left out mostly on age grounds under the terms of reference of the scheme.

When he was in opposition the Minister for Health, James Reilly pledged that he would compensate these remaining women within a year of taking office.

But this afternoon support group Patient Focus has accused him of failing to keep his promise.

Dr Neary worked in Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital for over 20 years but he was later struck off the medical register for wrongly removing the wombs of a number of his patients.

Sheila O’Connor of Patient Focus told a press conference today that repeated letters have been sent to the Minister and Taoiseach Enda Kenny but the standard reply is that the matter is “being attended”.

“We are bitterly disappointed,” she said.

“These women were profoundly damaged and cannot take legal action because of the time limit.They are a small group and deserve justice.”

Payments under the scheme ranged from €80,000 to €300,000 and were based on the age of the woman, severity of damage and the number of children they had.

Among the women who lost out is Marie Reaburn (60) from Ardee Co Louth.

According to the terms of reference, women could claim compensation if their ovaries were removed when they were under the age of 40. However Ms Reaburn as excluded because Dr Neary removed two of her ovaries three days after her 40th birthday.

 “I was plunged into an early menopause after a procedure I never should have undergone. It is not possible to have closure until this is sorted out,” she added.

“I was present with Dr Reilly attended a meeting and said he would include us in a redress scheme a year after his appointment but we are still waiting,” she added.

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