THE PROCESS TO compensate 29 women who suffered at the hands of former doctor Michael Neary but were subsequently excluded on age grounds from a compensation scheme should be complete in the next few weeks.
Speaking in the Dáil yesterday, Minister James Reilly said his proposals for dealing with the sensitive situation are at “an advanced stage”.
He said the Department of Health is currently in discussions with the Attorney General and the proposals to compensate the 29 women will be brought to Government “in the near future”.
Following Judge Maureen Harding Clark’s deliberations during a 2004 inquiry, 35 women who were subjected to unnecessary hysterectomies by Dr Michael Neary were excluded from the Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital redress scheme on age and other grounds.
Twenty-nine of those women were excluded because they were over the age of 40 when the procedures were carried out.
Consultations will take place with advocacy group Patient Focus before recommendations are brought to Cabinet.
“I hope that clarifies matters for the many women who suffered at the hand of an individual who was clearly dysfunctional and did untold damage to many people’s lives,” Reilly said. “As a past member of the medical profession that is something about which we are all deeply ashamed.”
Answering a question posed by Caoimhgín Ó Caoláin yesterday, Reilly said the cases of the other six women are currently being reviewed by the Attorney General as there are legal aspects to be considered.
The Sinn Féin deputy appealed to the Minister to address the situation “in a clean and full way leaving nobody hurt behind”.
“All of these women, without exception, have gone through a dreadful experience that has impacted on their lives every day since and will continue for all their days in the future. My appeal is that the Minister would leave nobody out at this final hurdle.”
Inquiries and investigations
Neary was struck off the Medical Register in September 2003 following a lengthy hearing before the Medical Council. A series of investigations and inquires into his practices began in 1998.
It was revealed that Neary performed negligent, damaging and unnecessary gynaecological procedures on a number women at the Drogheda hospital.
The issue came to light after two midwives working at the Maternity Unit raised concerns that Neary was carrying out an unusual number of caesarean hysterectomies. They also felt that some of his clinical practices were “out of date”.
The Lourdes Hospital Inquiry was established by the Government in 2004 after which a large number of women were compensated. It found that since Neary began his work as an obstetrician in the hospital, the rate of casesarian hysterectomies was extremely high.
Altogether he performed 129 such procedures which involve removing the woman’s womb shortly after she has given birth. The average for the majority of obstetricians’ career is about five, an RTÉ documentary revealed after investigating the case.
Advocacy group Patient Focus has welcomed the Minister’s commitment.
Speaking to TheJournal.ie, Cathriona Molloy said it is a “long time coming” but added that the group is “very pleased” that there will be a resolution and “some justice” for the women.
“It was also quite obvious in Leinster House yesterday that the Minister was ashamed as it had happened in his profession,” she said.
Patient Focus hopes that proposals will be brought to them and Cabinet before Easter.
Caithriona Molloy from advocacy group Patient Focus – and one of Neary’s victims – outside Leinster House yesterday.