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Public Service Announcement: Symphisotomy Redress Scheme Records
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In July 2014 the Irish Government initiated a Redress Scheme for women who had undergone Symphisiotomy procedures between 1940 and 1990. This scheme was extended in October 2014 to include women who had undergone pubiotomy procedures.
Medical records were submitted to the Redress Scheme by approximately 700 women. As the Scheme has concluded its work, the Chairperson of the Redress Scheme now proposes to dispose of these medical records if they are not claimed by the women, despite the Terms of Reference of the Redress Scheme making it clear that these medical records were to be returned to the people who had submitted them. In many cases, it is unlikely that copies of original records will have been retained by hospitals given the retention periods applied to records relating to midwifery and maternity care in the HSE, which set 25 years as the retention period.
If you are a woman who submitted records to the Symphisotomy Redress Scheme you have been given until the 20th of March to request your records back using the Redress Scheme's "Opinion Letter". If you do not request your records, the Assessor proposes to destroy them.
THERE IS ANOTHER OPTION
If you are a woman who submitted records to the Symphisiotomy Redress Scheme, please download the attached file and cut and paste the text into an email and send it to the Redress Scheme IMMEDIATELY.
This text does two things:
- It requests, under Section 4 of the Data Protection Acts, a copy of your personal data held by the Redress Scheme. This will include records generated internally within the Redress Scheme in addition to records you would have submitted yourself. A fee of at most €6.35 is chargeable for this, but the text simply asks for instructions on how to pay it - no money needs to be sent straight away (the Data Protection Commissioner has previously held that not acting on a Subject Access Request simply because payment has not been received is not in compliance with the Data Protection Acts). They have 40 days to provide the requested data (data relating to 3rd parties may be redacted)
- It requests, under Section 6A of the Data Protection Acts, that the Redress Scheme refrain from processing that is likely to cause substantial damage or distress. They have 20 days to respond to this request and give reasons why they consider their processing will not cause distress if they elect to continue processing the data. Shredding or otherwise destroying data falls within the definition of "processing" under the Data Protection Acts.
Why email? - simply: Time. Sending an email gets the request in well before the 20th of March. It also creates a date stamped record of when you submitted the request.
It is important that you keep records of any subsequent correspondence or communication with the Redress Scheme or anyone acting on their behalf as this may be relevant should a subsequent appeal or complaint to the Data Protection Commissioner be required.
It is recommended that you should also forward a copy of your Access Request and any response to Survivors of Symphisiotomy so they can assist in tracking the responses, but this is at your discretion (particularly if you are not already represented by this organisation).
(Thanks to Fred Logue in FPLogue Solicitors for his contribution of the bulk of this template text)