Monday 19 March 2018

Victims support group plead with Department for ‘fair settlement’

Eilish O’Regan Health Correspondent

The founding group for women who were subjected to a barbaric birth operation has pleaded with the Department of Health to stop excluding them and open negotiations on a “fair and just settlement.”

The Survivors of Symphisiotomy (SOS) group, who had the operation mostly in the 1950s and 1960s, represents over 200 women who have suffered life-long pain and other serious medical problems after their pelvis was broken by obstetricians.

However, the Department is only holding talks with Patient Focus, the advocacy group which it funds, excluding SOS from discussions.

The SOS group has warned against a proposed redress scheme, the details of which have yet to be revealed by the Department.

Marie O Connor, a spokeswoman for SOS, told a press conference today that members at a recent EGM  decided unanimously that instead of accepting a proposed scheme- the product of a veneer of consultation- they would instead seek to negotiate a “fair and just settlement with the State.”

She said they were repeating the previous offer of settlements ranging from €250,000 to  €450,000, with the highest payouts for those most greviously injured.

She said around 80pc of the operations were done in private hospitals, which have insurance, so the taxpayer should only be liable for one fifth of the payout.

The founder of the group Matilda Behan (83) from Ringsend in Dublin told how she was restrained by two nurses who held her hands above her shoulders. Two doctors pulled her legs apart and immobilised her to allow the symphisiotomy be carried out at the National Maternity Hospital in Holles St in 1958.

“I have since discovered the implement used to saw my pelvis in half was similar to those used by hunters in which the butcher kills an animal quickly,” she said.

Matilda is among hundreds of women who continues to suffer pain and problems with mobility.Others were left incontinent and in many cases the bones have not healed decades later.

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