Long wait for elderly applicants for symphysiotomy compensation

Judge Maureen Harding Clark says almost 100 women have not provided full records

Retired judge Maureen Harding Clark. Photograph: Brenda Fitzsimons

Retired judge Maureen Harding Clark. Photograph: Brenda Fitzsimons


Elderly applicants to the State redress scheme for survivors of Symphysiotomy have been left waiting for awards for over seven months because of the failure of representatives to provide essential documents, according to the assessor of the scheme.

Retired judge Maureen Harding Clark says almost 100 women who applied for compensation have failed to provide full documentation in support of their case.

Forty-five of these women have been warned that unless they furnish records showing they had a symphysiotomy, or explanation for the non-availability of these documents, their applications will be deemed ineligible.

Another 53 applicants who have provided documents relating to their Symphysiotomy have yet to furnish Judge Harding Clark with evidence to support their claim of significant disability. They have been told to identify the disability and provide “objective evidence” within a specific time.

Judge Harding Clark says she continues to receive medical records from applicants about recent hospital admissions for “apparently unrelated” medical conditions such as stroke, heart problems, diabetes or thyroid conditions.

Some applicants have missed two assessment dates without advancing their claim beyond the initial application form, she says.

The scheme was established to compensate women who underwent symphysiotomies, which involved cutting the pelvic bone to create more space during childbirth. Long-term effects for the women included impaired walking, chronic pain and incontinence. It offers three categories of payment - €50,000, €100,000 and €150,000 - depending on the severity of injuries.

Some 577 applications were accepted under the scheme up to early June. Offers have been made to 235 women, of which 222 were accepted, and 204 awards have been made.

Ninety-one cases have been found ineligible, including 52 which were withdrawn by the applicants. Four applicants died before their applications were assessed.

Of the 222 awards accepted, 135 women were assessed at €50,000, 81 received €100,000 and six were awarded €150,000.

The Survivors of Symphysiotomy group, which has opposed the Government’s response, is to publish a critique of the scheme tomorrow (thurs). It is expected to highlight the fact that most awards are being made at the lowest level, while large numbers of women are having their applications rejected.