Symphysiotomy is a surgical procedure whereby the pelvis is broken in order to allow easier delivery of a baby. The surgery increased the size of the pelvic area and thus allowed easier delivery of the baby. It became a routine procedure for women experiencing an obstructed labour and it is estimated that upwards of 1,500 women had the procedure here in Ireland between 1942 and the 1990’s. The procedure was often carried out without the mother’s knowledge or consent. As a result of this procedure many women suffered from incontinence, prolapsed organs, walking difficulties and chronic aches.
The Health Minister, James Reilly made a commitment to lifting the Statute of Limitations. The Statute of Limitations in Ireland is currently two years and therefore many women were not able to seek compensation as the time frame within which to initiate a claim had passed. The survivors of this procedure want the Statute lifted in order to allow them access to the courts to seek justice. Survivors of Symphysiotomy wants a legal settlement with the hospitals that performed the operations which should give over 200 women affected €250,000 to €450,000 depending on their injuries.
The real difficulty is in lifting the Statute of Limitations and the Minister has stated that he will write to the Attorney General to see whether it can be lifted. The Minister also suggested a negotiated mediation by a Judge rather than litigation as a possible solution saving time and money. Two groups, the Patient Focus and SOS Ltd have welcomed this as it would be less traumatic for the survivors and also help bring closure.
A report is due shortly on this issue. If you or someone you know has been affected by symphsiotomy please contact Martina Murphy on 061-303311 or firstname.lastname@example.org