February 21st 2019 For immediate release
The Association for Improvements in the Maternity Services Ireland (AIMSI) calls upon Minister Simon Harris to expedite the outstanding settlement between Independent Midwife Philomena Canning and the HSE.
On the 20th September 2015, the media reported the then Minister of Health Leo Varadkar’s support for midwife Philomena Canning and his resounding endorsement of her safety record and practice as a home birth midwife in Ireland. Since that time the HSE has repeatedly filibustered on High Court Hearings and no settlement for damages has been made.
In that time Ms Canning has been diagnosed with terminal ovarian cancer. Today she made a plea from her hospital bed in St Vincent’s Hospital Dublin for her case to finally be settled.
Ms Canning asked that her case be expedited so that her lawyers fees can be settled, so that she can be compensated for damage to her practice, her livelihood and her good name and that finally so that she can afford to avail of the drug Pembro which is her last hope to lead her cancer into remission. Otherwise she may only have weeks to live.
The enquiry into Ms Canning’s practice dates back to 12th September 2014. Ms Canning’s practice was investigated by leading midwifery experts from within and outside Ireland. All declared her practice to be without fault and exemplary. Their recommendations led to the State Claims Agency restoring her clinical indemnity in February 2015, but the High Court settlement for damages remained outstanding.
AIMSI Chair Krysia Lynch said “It is vital that maternity services in Ireland are of the highest standard and it is essential that any failing on the part of maternity service providers be extensively investigated. However this case is a farce. The HSE’s own expert witnesses have categorically stated that Ms Canning’s practice was exemplary. Despite all of this the HSE has persistently delayed a High Court Settlement and appears able to act with impunity in this matter. The continuing nature of the case against Ms Canning resulted in untold damages to her practice, her livelihood and her good name. Furthermore, many pregnant families were denied her excellent care. The whole episode is appalling and many international human rights observers have been justifiably shocked at her on going treatment.”
Lynch continued “AIMS Ireland have been contacted by hundreds of women and midwives today asking us what they can do to support Ms Canning and how and why the HSE were able to act in this manner? On behalf of service users in Ireland we ask the Minister of Health, Simon Harris to exert whatever pressure is required at this point on the HSE to ensure an emergency sitting of the High Court to have this case resolved and a settlement made. The HSE’s handling of this case inspires absolutely no public confidence whatsoever and its up to the Minister to right a grievous wrong as soon as possible.”