Harney to wait for Drogheda hospital report

Tuesday 25 January 2005 20.00
Mary Harney - Strongly criticised
Mary Harney - Strongly criticised

The Tánaiste and Minister for Health has said she would wait to see the results of a report into practices at Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital in Drogheda before deciding what action needed to be taken.

Speaking in Galway, Mary Harney said that before receiving the report from Judge Maureen Harding Clarke, it would be inappropriate to set up a redress board as demanded by patients of former obstetrician Dr Michael Neary.

The report is due to be published in early March.

Patients of the former surgeon say they suffered unnecessary hardship and heartbreak because they had their wombs and ovaries unnecessarily removed in the Drogheda hospital.

Patient Focus wrote to Ms Harney last November requesting a meeting to discuss the establishment of a redress board similar to that set up for victims of institutional abuse.

Ms Harney was strongly criticised at a public meeting in Drogheda last night for failing to respond to the letter from Patient Focus. However, a spokesman for the minister has said the Department of Health did reply to the letter.

Politicians from all parties attended the meeting last night where more than 100 women from around the country called for the setting-up of a redress board.

Green Party leader Trevor Sargent told the meeting he will be seeking an immediate adjournment when the Dáil resumes on Wednesday afternoon to allow time to discuss the issue, and to give Ms Harney an opportunity to respond.

Solicitor Colm McGeehan, who represents a number of former patients, says there is no legal conflict in establishing such a board in advance of the publication of the report from Judge Harding Clarke. He said if a board was established immediately all outstanding cases could be dealt with by the end of this year.

Dr Neary was struck off by the Medical Council in 2003 after he was found guilty of professional misconduct.