Neary victims accuse Government of breaking compensation promise
Patient group says it is bitterly disappointment at failure of Fine Gael and Labour to compensate 35 women
Marie Reaburn (left), Louth, and Cathriona Molloy of Patient Focus. Photograph: Eric Luke /Irish Times
PAUL CULLEN, Health Correspondent
The Government has been accused of a “shameful” failure to keep a promise to compensation former patients of obstetrician Michael Neary who were exclused from the original redress scheme.
Both Fine Gael and Labour promised before the last election to compensate 35 women who were treated by Mr Neary, who was struck off the medical register in 2003 for carrying out an excessive number of hysterectomies at Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital, Drogheda. The two parties undertook to compensate women who had been excluded largely on age grounds within the first year of Government.
Mr Neary was found to have unnecessarily removed patients’ wombs and it emerged later that he had also removed women’s ovaries unnecessarily.
Patient Focus, representing the women, said today that it had written repeatedly to Taoiseach Enda Kenny and Minister for Health James Reilly but had received no clarity.
“All we’ve been told is that it is being attended to,” said spokeswoman Sheila O’Connor. “That isn’t enough. We are bitterly disappointed that these promises are not being kept.”
She said a request for a meeting with the Taoiseach has not been specifically answered.
“We just want to get on with our lives,” said one of the affected women, Mary Pakenham. “It’s always in the back of your mind. We need closure.”
A number of politicians from the Louth /Meath area attended the press briefing near the Dail but Ms O’Connor criticised the low number in attendance. Labour TD Ged Nash said he was deeply frustrated at the lack of action on the issue, which he said he had raised repeatedly at Labour parliamentary meetings.
The 35 women damaged by the obstetrician were excluded from a 2007 redress scheme for a number of reasons including, in some cases, their age when the operations were performed.
In Opposition, Dr Reilly said he would seek to address the issue either through the application of existing redress or through the State Claims Agency. Some mechanism was required “to acknowledge the hurt and harm done” and give rise to compensation, he said.
A number of the women pointed out that Mr Neary was on a large State pension despite being struck off while they were still waiting for justice from the State.