December deadline for symphysiotomy redress scheme
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December deadline for symphysiotomy redress scheme

A 20-DAY window has been announced for survivors of Ireland’s controversial symphysiotomy childbirth procedure to apply for the Irish Government’s redress scheme.

Launched on November 10, women who underwent the procedure – where the mother’s pelvic bone is broken during labour to allow the baby to be born - have until 5pm on Friday, December 5 to apply to the state compensation scheme.

The limited timeframe is applicable to women in Ireland as well as those who may now be based in Britain - despite the scheme not being advertised here.

When quizzed on how British-based survivors are being made aware of the scheme, a Department of Health spokesperson told The Irish Post: “The Department published a press statement on the commencement of the Scheme and this was picked up by the media.  The Scheme was highlighted by the British media, e.g.  BBC news and BBC Women’s Hour and the notice for the Scheme is on the Department's website.”

They added: “The closing date for the Scheme is Friday, December 5. There is provision for an additional 20 working days in exceptional circumstances.”

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Survivors of Symphysiotomy, the leading campaign group representing these women, believes a number of Irish mothers who underwent the procedure - which largely took place in the 1940s and 1960s, but are recorded as late as 1984 at a hospital in Drogheda – could now be living in Britain.

SOS also rejects the redress scheme, claiming its ex-gratia nature removes the legal rights of the mothers - many of whom suffered severe mental and physical trauma as a result of the procedure.

For those who wish to take up the scheme, the government fund for which is €34m (£27m), three levels of compensation will be available.

Depending on the severity of the injury, women will receive either a €50,000 euros (£40,000), €100,000 (£80,000) or €150,000 (£120,000) payout.

The Irish Post was unable to confirm if any British-based applications have been received by Judge Maureen Harding Clark, who Irish Minister for Health Leo Varadkar has appointed to implement the scheme.

“The Department has no information on the women who have applied to date to the Scheme, or where those women currently reside,” a DOH spokesperson told us.

“The Scheme is being administered by the Judge in a confidential fashion.”

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They added: “We have been informed by Judge Clark, that she received a number of completed application forms last week and has made a decision on awards for a proportion of these.

“Judge Clark has also confirmed that she will post regular updates, commencing this week, on progress on assessing applications on the Scheme's website.”

Earlier this month two charities came together to support survivors of the symphysiotomy procedure who are now living in Britain.

Irish in Britain and icap have revealed a joint strategy, working with Irwin Mitchell solicitors, to raise awareness of the procedure and ensure any survivors now based in Britain receive the support they need.