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Ó Caoláin - Government should establish public inquiry on Drogheda Hospital scandal

8 September, 2003

The Minister for Health and Children Mícheál Martin should establish a public inquiry into how dozens of unnecessary caesarean hysterectomies were allowed to be carried out at Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital in Drogheda, according to Sinn Féin Health spokeperson Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin TD. He was commenting on the beginning of the Garda investigation into the activities of former consultant obstetrician Dr. Michael Neary after the Medical Council submitted their report on Neary to the gardai at the weekend. Deputy Ó Caoláin said:

"The commencement of the Garda inquiry is very welcome. It should not be used as an excuse by the government to put off the necessary public inquiry. The issue here is not simply the activities of one obstetrician. Women were victimised in this way over a period of years in Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital in Drogheda. No-one shouted stop, except the victims themselves who realised too late what had happened to them. Members of the medical and nursing staff and the hospital management must have been aware of what was going on but chose not to act, or worse, co-operated in practices whereby women were treated in an horrific manner.

"The women victims of this scandal, some of them teenagers at the time of their operations, have been through dreadful experiences. Without their knowledge or consent, they had their wombs removed unnecessarily and were prevented from having more children. These women are victims of a form of medical butchery.

"I met the Minister for Health and Children Mícheál Martin on this issue on two occasions, including with members of Patient Focus, and I repeat the call made then. There must be a full public inquiry and there must be a scheme of compensation for the women. We must know how such practices were allowed to continue for so long in Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital and the lessons for the structure, management and delivery of our health services must be learned and acted upon."ENDS

„On my proposal the North Eastern Health Board recommended an appropriate process of compensation, and requested the Minister for Health and Children to establish a full public inquiry into the delivery of Maternity Services at Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital. This should now be announced by the Minister without delay.‰ ENDS

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