The Government is to develop a package of health and well-being supports for survivors of mother and baby institutions.

The move follows the publication of 44 recommendations from a survivors' forum established by the Children's Minister Katherine Zappone. 

The full report of the work of the forum has been withheld by the minister pending next year's planned publication of the final report of the Mother and Baby Homes' Commission.

Minister Zappone has repeatedly said she wants to put victims of abuse in mother and baby institutions at the core of the process of discovering what really happened to them and to their thousands of peers.

But launching the report of the Collaborative Forum she established last summer, she admitted that nobody knows how many mothers and babies went through the institutions and who might be eligible for assistance.

She said that earlier today, the Cabinet tasked the Health Minister, Simon Harris to develop in co-operation with her department, proposals for an appropriate package of health and social care measures which will be brought back to Government for approval in September in time for the Estimates process leading to this year's budget. 

Among the recommendations of the 20-person forum, 16 of whom are former residents of the so-called homes, are that free expert DNA testing is provided to persons wishing to recover their identities.

That the state should provide comprehensive health care to all survivors of Mother and Child Institutions and for members of their immediate family.

It says all survivors should be transferred promptly to the HAA Card scheme which entitles recipients to free GP services, prescribed drugs, medical aids and appliances, home support services, dental, ophthalmic, aural, physiotherapy, as well as  free counselling for survivors and their families.

The forum also recommends that survivors should have the most advanced form of medical card currently in use; free access to private health services including comprehensive assessments and screening. Free private health insurance is also recommended to include pre-existing health conditions.

A leading member of the Forum read testimonies from witnesses it consulted including from an elderly mother who was a rape victim.

She bled profusely while in the care of the Bessborough Home in Cork, had her child taken from her and who has suffered from years from rheumatoid arthritis, which, she believes, resulted from her multiple traumas.