Women to refuse to attend second inquiry into womb removal

WOMEN who had their wombs removed by a Drogheda obstetrician will refuse to go before a second Medical Council inquiry into alleged misconduct, it emerged yesterday.

Dr Michael Neary was found guilty of professional misconduct for removing the wombs of 10 patients by the Medical Council last month. He was also struck off the medical register.

Now the Medical Council has confirmed it may be legally obliged to hold a second inquiry into complaints from six other women against Dr Neary. Notice of inquiry into these cases was given on December 2001.

Council president Professor Gerry Bury said there could be a decision on a second inquiry at a special meeting this month. He would not rule out another inquiry into Dr Neary.

“There is no question but that complaints can result in inquiries in relation to a doctor who was not on the register but who was when the complaint was made,” Professor Bury told the Irish Medical Times.

But Patient Focus which represents 100 women who had their wombs removed said yesterday there was no point in the Medical Council holding any more inquiries into complaints against Dr Neary.

“There is no more punishment the Medical Council can impose and many women feel there is no point in appearing before them,” Patient Focus spokeswoman Sheila O’Connor said.

Patient Focus has already criticised the council for its delay in reaching a decision on Dr Neary. It came four-and-a-half years after the first complaint was made “Many women who have appeared before the Medical Council felt they were being persecuted and were telling their stories to a totally unsympathetic group,” Ms O’Connor said.

The council’s own report into the way it does business conducted by

former attorney general Harry Whelehan upheld these criticisms, according to Patient Focus. “The only way many of these women would appear before the Medical Council again would be out of a public duty or a need to tell their stories,” Ms O’Connor said.

Most women would now prefer to take their cases to the courts and seek compensation against Dr Neary and the State, she added. There are already 60 such compensation claims before the courts.

Dr Neary has until August 19 to appeal the Medical Council’s decision that he be struck off the medical register to the High Court. His solicitor said yesterday that Dr Neary has not decided what he will do.

Meanwhile, Patient Focus is continuing to lobby Health Minister Micheál Martin to set up an independent judicial inquiry and compensation tribunal, claiming there are many unanswered questions.

The minister’s spokeswoman said yesterday he would not make any decision until he has met with Patient Focus and the council in September. Mr Martin has the option of referring the report to the DPP.

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