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9 March 2006 Edition

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Neary report "damning indictment"

BY Aran Foley

"A damning indictment" was how the Sinn Féin leader in the Dáil and the party's spokesperson on Health, Caoimhghin Ó Caoláin described the report of Judge Maureen Harding Clark in to the actions of former consultant Michael Neary at Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital in Drogheda. Neary had been responsible for carrying out a large number of unnecessary surgical procedures, which involved the removal of the wombs of an unusually high number of women. Commenting on the issue, O' Caoláin said that the report which was published last week was a "damning indictment not just of one consultant, but of a conspiracy involving a number of people, who either participated in gross medical malpractice or turned a blind eye or took part in the cover-up afterwards.

That a large number of women, some quite young, were mutilated and denied the ability to conceive children again through Neary's actions, warrants immediate Government action, Ó Caoláin said in the Dáil on Wednesday."

He demanded that a redress board be established as a "forum for the women to state their cases and to obtain due recompense for what they and their families have suffered". He also demanded that the Gardaí proactively pursue those responsible for the theft of medical records from Drogheda Hospital.

In response, Taoiseach Bertie Agern gave commitments that the Gardaí would fully investigate the thefts of medical records and that an amended version of the Heads of the Medical Practitioners Bill would be published between the Easter and summer periods. But he would only give a qualified commitment that compensation would be "an issue that the Government would address."

Ó Caoláin then drew attention to another aspect of the report's findings. "Theatres, staff and clinicians with the requisite skills are in place but gynaecology operations are not carried out because there are no dedicated gynaecology beds for elective surgery in that area. This is absurd in a hospital that provides the critical mass of the service to women throughout the Northeast area"

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