Survivors of Symphysiotomy appeal to the Rotunda Hospital for the release of key birth records


Survivors of Symphysiotomy have appealed to one of Dublin’s main maternity hospitals to release records belonging to one of their members. Marie O’Connor, Chairperson of Survivors of Symphysiotomy, said: ‘we are appealing to the Master of the Rotunda Hospital to authorise the immediate release of obstetric records belonging to one of our members. The National Archives confirmed to a national newspaper in mid-December that they hold these records. They will release these records as soon as the Rotunda Hospital consents’.

‘It is inexcusable that, three weeks after their identification, the hospital’s consent is still not forthcoming. While the hospital has cited staff shortages as a reason for not dealing with this in a timely manner, this is not a reason that can be applied here. The National Archives have been most helpful. All the usual demands, including for a written request to be accompanied by photo identification, were met three weeks ago by our member.’

‘Ms Doyle is one of a number of women deeply affected by the belated ‘discovery’ of thousands of maternity care records, some of which detail the performance of symphysiotomies and puybiotomies in three different hospitals. Documents relating to the Rotunda Hospital, such as theatre and birth registers, are held in the National Archives.’

‘The Department of Health has failed to explain why these records were not disclosed in response to queries from our members. All the evidence points to a systemic cover-up. We must now ask whether the authorities intend to hold onto these vital records until after the final closing date for the Government’s scheme for survivors of symphysiotomy has passed.’

‘Dail questions asked by TDs at our request forced the disclosure of these records. There seems to have been an overarching intention on the part of the authorities to withhold them, even at the cost of breaching Freedom of Information and Data Protection legislation.’

‘We appeal to Dr Coulter-Smith to consent to the release these records. Ms Doyle has waited for 53 years for the certain knowledge these records will bring: while it may not be be unlawful to force her to wait for another month, such an action would be inhumane as well as needless’, Marie O’Connor concluded.

The Government’s scheme for survivors of symphysiotomy closes on the 14th January.

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