The Examiner recently published an extensive report on the way that Irish people damaged by Thalidomide before birth have been let down by the State.
There was also a great interview on RTE this morning with a doctor, the excellent Austin O'Carroll, who was affected by the Thalidomide drug, prescribed to pregnant women for morning sickness fifty years ago.
Ireland was the last country to stop prescribing the drug, and rather than issuing an urgent recall notice, there was a "soft recall" - drugs already in doctors' surgeries, or in pharmacies, were left there for issue and some were still on the shelves three years later. During that time an unknown number of children died in utero and at least half a dozen were seriously physically damaged by the drug. The assumption of people in the Irish Thalidomide Association is that this was to prevent pregnant women who had taken Thalidomide "travelling" i.e. seeking termination of pregnancy in England.
The most recognisable sign of Thalidomide effects is shortened limbs, but many other kinds of damage, including deafness, took place. Now in their early 50s, people with Thalidomide damage are suffering from all the extra wear and tear from overcoming their physical injuries.
Compensation issued has been a pittance, and the drug company was let off scot free.
The Fine Gael / Labour Programme for Government promised...
http://www.colmbrophy.ie/wp-content/...to-low-res.pdf (page 50)Thalidomide: We will reopen discussions with the Irish Thalidomide Association regarding further
compensation for victims of thalidomide.
James O'Reilly, Health Minister, made a statement in the Dail in answer to a question from a Labour T.D.
They were subsequently offered, instead of negotiations, a half hour "gesture" meeting with Enda Kenny.Kevin Humphreys (Dublin South East, Labour)
Question 534: To ask the Minister for Health the position regarding the Programme for Government commitment to address the need for further compensation for victims of Thalidomide; when he will deliver on this commitment; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [33716/12]
James Reilly (Minister, Department of Health; Dublin North, Fine Gael)
I met with the Irish Thalidomide Association (ITA) and the Irish Thalidomide Survivors Society (ITSS) last year.
Having taken legal advice, I am satisfied that the State does not have a legal liability for the injuries suffered by Irish survivors of thalidomide. However, I have previously indicated that I am willing to enter into discussions about a financial gesture of goodwill towards Irish survivors of thalidomide, which will be constrained by virtue of the current economic circumstances of the country and the many demands made on limited resources. The Irish Thalidomide Association has stated that it fundamentally disagrees with the State’s position above and it is unwilling to engage with me on this basis. I also informed both organisations that the Government’s main concern is to address their health and social care needs. The first step in this process is to identify the needs of each individual. The Health Service Executive (HSE) and Dr Paul O’Connell, Consultant in Rheumatology and Rehabilitation, Beaumont Hospital have developed a protocol for an appropriate assessment process. The ITA is unwilling to engage in this process also.
The protocol envisages that the multidisciplinary assessment process will include medical, nursing, occupation therapists, physiotherapists, social workers and/or other designated staff as appropriate. It is proposed that the assessment will be conducted in two phases. Phase 1 will be conducted by a multidisciplinary team in Beaumont Hospital. Phase II will be conducted by a multidisciplinary team in the community, preferably in the home. In addition, Beaumont will establish and maintain links with more established centres in Europe. The draft Protocol for the Multidisciplinary Management Plan for the Care of Survivors of Thalidomide in Ireland was sent to the ITSS. The ITSS were asked to review the draft protocol and revert to the HSE with any observations.
However, the ITSS has written to the HSE regarding the extent and scope of the assessment process. Some major issues raised by the ITSS, including an independent agency, housing, heating and transport are unfortunately outside my Department’s remit. I have written to the ITSS requesting them, in good faith, to continue to engage with the HSE in developing and participating in a health care assessment process. The process and its outcome will provide information which will assist us in addressing the future health care needs of Irish survivors of thalidomide.
The Irish Thalidomide Association has rightly told Fine Gael and Labour what to do with their 'gestures' and are taking legal cases to obtain proper compensation / health care allowances.
Twenty five people are taking thalidomide-related cases to the Personal Injuries Board, as of last week.
http://galwayindependent.com/stories...ecure-supportsIrish Thalidomide Association (ITA) Chairperson, Claregalway resident Maggie Woods is just one of the 25 members of the ITA, who are this week lodging applications against the Irish State with the Injuries Board.
Licensed by the State and marketed as a cure for morning sickness in the 1950s and 1960s, Thalidomide caused physical deformities in children born to mothers who had taken the drug during pregnancy.
The Government made a previous financial settlement with the families of Thalidomide survivors in 1975, when they received lump sums of between €6,600 and €27,300 and a monthly allowance of between €40 and €120.
The legal profession is waiting in the wings -