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257 victims of 'brutal' birth op seek payments

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Staff in the health services here are under a lot of pressure

Staff in the health services here are under a lot of pressure

Staff in the health services here are under a lot of pressure

MORE THAN 250 survivors of the controversial birth operation symphysiotomy have applied to the Government's €34m redress scheme.

Applications continue to come in at "an increasing rate" ahead of tomorrow's closing date, the Department of Health has said.

Many of the 257 applications are from women in their late 80s and early 90s who have applied within the stipulated time period.

Symphysiotomy, which has been described as brutal, involved cutting a pregnant woman's pubic bone to widen the birth canal.

Applications are being assessed by former High Court Judge Maureen Harding Clark.

Women who qualify for payments under the scheme will receive awards at three levels - €50,000, €100,000 and €150,000.

The procedure was carried out on around 1,500 women between the 1920s and mid-1980s, and around 350 are believed to be eligible for payments.

Many women were left with permanent injuries including incontinence, difficulty walking and chronic pain as a result of a symphysiotomy.

The Government published details of the redress scheme last month.

"It is designed to be simple and non-adversarial and aims to minimise the stress for all the women concerned," the Department of Health said.

waive

"It was designed following meetings with the three support groups."

Women may opt out of the scheme at any stage, up to the time of accepting an award, if they wish to take legal action.

"No one will waive their right to proceed with a court case as a pre-condition of applying to the scheme," the department said.

"If they wish, women may obtain legal or professional advice to help in preparing to submit an application to the payment scheme, but this is not necessary."

The High Court has confirmed that the scheme takes into account the needs of any woman with diminished mental capacity. In such cases, another person may make an application on her behalf.

fdillon@herald.ie


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