A protest was held outside the Dail today for terminally ill midwife Philomena Canning who has battled the HSE since 2014.
Ms Canning is suing the HSE over what she considers a serious injustice. Her indemnity insurance was cancelled without notice in 2014 when two cases involving safety risk had come to the attention of the HSE.
The case has dragged on since 2015, despite Ms Canning’s persistence to have it brought to court. She was forced to sell her home because she couldn’t make repayments. Last year, she was diagnosed with ovarian cancer, which has now become terminal.
She believes that her only hope is access to the immunotherapy drug, Pembro. It costs €6,000 per treatment and now she wants the case settled so she can access money for the drug that may help prolong her life.
“I had her for my three home births, she was amazing. Philomena is the kind of lady who wouldn’t ask or accept a settlement unless she felt that she had no other option now”, said Jane McLoughlin outside the Dail today.
One of the cases involved a post-partum haemorrhage, a loss of blood soon after childbirth. The news was a major shock to Ms Canning as neither of the two mothers had complained.
Both mothers only became aware that the midwife was under investigation when they were informed months later. At the time of the suspension, she had up to 30 expectant mothers at different stages of pregnancy
Ms Canning’s practice was never referred to the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Ireland, which investigates capability to practice. The systems analysis was carried out by an administrator and physiotherapist. It was overseen by the official who had suspended Ms Canning.
A settlement was offered in 2015 but she rejected it. “I wanted money to compensate me for my loss of earnings but it would be known publicly what they did in my case”, Ms Canning said.
“I believe a serious safety incident was covered up here for which I was to be blamed”, she added. The HSE has not conceded liability in the case Philomena Canning is bringing against it.
Sinn Fein politician Louise O’Reilly pleaded with Taoiseach Leo Varadkar in the Dail today to intervene on the grounds of compassion. “She does not want to spend the last days of her life battling with the HSE”, she said.
“The information I have is that a settlement has been offered” the Taoiseach said. When contacted over the phone, the Department of Health would not give comment.
By Clara Caslin
Image Credit: Clara Caslin