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Written Answers - Departmental Reports

Tuesday, 27 March 2012

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 760 No. 3

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 32.  Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin Information on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin Zoom on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  asked the Minister for Health Information on James Reilly Zoom on James Reilly  when he intends publishing the Walsh Report; if he will advise its terms of reference; the extent of the consultation and engagement with informed voices and, very especially, with victims of symphysiotomy; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16251/12]

[708]

 561.  Deputy Sandra McLellan Information on Sandra McLellan Zoom on Sandra McLellan  asked the Minister for Health Information on James Reilly Zoom on James Reilly  if he will provide more than one symphysiotomy liaison officer in the country [16184/12]

 562.  Deputy Sandra McLellan Information on Sandra McLellan Zoom on Sandra McLellan  asked the Minister for Health Information on James Reilly Zoom on James Reilly  if he will ensure that all victims of symphysiotomy are automatically entitled to a medical card [16185/12]

 563.  Deputy Sandra McLellan Information on Sandra McLellan Zoom on Sandra McLellan  asked the Minister for Health Information on James Reilly Zoom on James Reilly  if he will ensure that all victims and survivors of symphysiotomy receive access to all clinical support needed and that this access should be readily available [16186/12]

Minister for Health (Deputy James Reilly): Information on James Reilly Zoom on James Reilly I propose to take Questions Nos. 32 and 561 to 563, inclusive, together.

My Department has received a draft report from the independent academic researcher who was appointed to complete a report into the practice of symphysiotomy in Ireland. As I outlined in the Dáil Statement on 15 March 2012, the specific scope of the report that the researcher has been given is to:

1. a) Document the rates of symphysiotomy and maternal mortality in Ireland from 1940 to date by reference to available data (including annual reports and other reports);

b) Assess symphysiotomy rates against maternal mortality rates over the period.

2. Critically appraise international reviews of symphysiotomy practice and associated rates in a number of comparable countries in the world and in Ireland.

3. Review any guidelines and protocols that applied in Ireland on symphysiotomy over the time period.

4. Write a report based on the findings of the above analysis providing an accurate picture of the extent of use of symphysiotomy in Ireland, and an examination of the Irish experience relative to other countries.

I asked the Attorney General to consider the draft research report and I have just received her advice. There is no legal impediment to publishing the research with certain clarifications included. I now propose to make the draft research report available for consultation, subject to the minor amendments arising from the legal advice received. Following the consultation process with relevant individuals and bodies the report will be finalised by the academic researcher.

I am determined to bring this matter to a satisfactory conclusion for all women concerned as soon as possible. I am very conscious of the distress that this procedure has caused to a number of women in the past and recognise the pain that this issue has caused to those affected by it. The Government is committed to dealing with this matter sensitively, so that if at all possible, closure can be brought to those affected by it. In the first instance, it is a priority to make sure that the health needs of those who have had a symphysiotomy are met quickly and effectively. With this in mind I am committed to ensuring that the greatest possible supports and services are made available to women who continue to suffer effects of having undergone this procedure. The women concerned continue to receive attention and care through a number of services which have been put in place in the HSE.

Patients who underwent this procedure have been granted full GMS eligibility on medical grounds and are issued on application with a medical card from the HSE. Other services available to the women, should they wish to access the services are independent clinical advice, the [709]organisation of individual pathways of care and the arrangement of appropriate follow-up care. This follow-up care includes medical, gynaecological and orthopaedic assessment, counselling, physiotherapy, reflexology, home help, acupuncture, osteopathy and fast tracked hospital appointments where possible. A support group facilitated by a counsellor was set up in Dundalk and Drogheda in 2004 for women living in the north-east region. Necessary medical expenses related to symphysiotomy in respect of medical and private treatments may also be refunded. In addition to these medical services and supports, a national triple assessment service provided by a multidisciplinary team was established in Cappagh Hospital, Dublin in 2005.

The HSE has recently nominated a National Lead Officer for Symphysiotomy who is now in place. The regional liaison officer referred to by the Deputy is in place in the Dublin North-East area and it is intended to designate further liaison officers in the other three regions as soon as possible. The provision of these necessary medical and support services for women is monitored and overseen by the HSE who are committed to being proactive in offering help to women who underwent a symphysiotomy and who may wish to avail of the services offered by the HSE.


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