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Symphysiotomy claims - update

  • Ireland
  • General

23-12-2013

Judge Yvonne Murphy has recently been appointed to provide a report proposing a just outcome for women who have been affected by symphysiotomy procedures. The surgical procedure was used primarily between 1920 and the early 1980s. Thereafter it was largely replaced in this jurisdiction by caesarean sections. It is estimated that there may be between 200 and 300 women living in Ireland who underwent the procedure.

Having met with representatives of the women affected (Patient Focus, Survivors of Symphysiotomy and Survivors of Symphysiotomy Limited) the Government determined that best interests would not be served by a move to ‘lift’ the Statute of Limitations. It is intended that any funds available be directed to the women in question rather than towards discharging legal costs. Justice Murphy has therefore been nominated to:

  1. examine all reports and information relating to the procedure
  2. meet the women who have undergone such procedures and assess what, in their opinion, would bring closure 
  3. assess the relative liabilities of insurers and indemnifiers 
  4. meet insurers/indemnifiers to advise and negotiate on quantum representing a fair contribution towards a fund forming part of an ex-gratia scheme (to which the Government would also contribute)
  5. advise the State on the merits and cost of proceeding with an ex-gratia scheme as balanced against allowing court proceedings
  6. report to the Government within eight weeks on the outcome and to provide recommendations as to next steps.

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