Published: Thu, May 03, 2018
Culture&Arts | By Drew Collins

Breast cancer screening scandal: 100s of women may have died

Breast cancer screening scandal: 100s of women may have died

Systems and processes have been examined as a result of the problems identified in England, where 450,000 women aged between 68 and 71 missed a final routine appointment due to an IT failure.

Early indications suggested that between 135 and 270 women had their lives shortened as a result of the error, Hunt said.

"We would like to reassure women in Wales that we believe this issue to be one that predominantly affects England".

Mr Hunt yesterday explained that an IT glitch dating back to 2009 meant 450,000 women aged between 68 and 71 had not received invitations for a final scan.

It's unclear whether any delay in diagnosis resulted in avoidable harm or heath issues, so an independent review will look at clinical impact.

Public Health England discovered the problem after analysing data and has apologised to the women affected.

Baroness Morgan, the chief executive of Breast Cancer Now, said the failure to notify so many women about their screenings was unacceptable.

"It's worth remembering that many breast cancers are still found by women themselves, outside of the screening programme, so if you notice any unusual changes in your breast, see your GP straight away".

"We know this will unfortunately be incredibly hard news for many women to hear".

The Irish government said 17 of the patients involved have since died, though it has not yet established the cause of death, and a further 1,500 women who developed cervical cancer over the last 10 years did not have their cases reviewed.

Fornham St Martin based Gina Long MBE, who is a founding member of the Suffolk Breast Cancer Now Group, said: "As a fundraiser and campaigner for breast cancer, I know full well how imperative an early diagnosis is for those who are diagnosed with this wretched disease".

He called for Hunt to ensure that the NHS will have the staff it needs to carry out the additional work.

With the announcement by Jeremy Hunt that thousands of women were not offered a potentially life-saving breast cancer screening, many will be left worrying.

The Royal College of Global Positioning System welcomed the independent review and urged women affected not to panic.

He said: "Many families will be deeply disturbed by these revelations".

All those affected will receive a letter by the end of May with those under 75 offered a catch-up mammogram within six months.

Ms Thomas said: 'It's absolutely critical we understand what happened and make sure this situation never happens to another person again.

Letters will also go to next-of-kin of patients who did not get their invitation and have died.

On Wednesday Mr Hunt said "administrative incompetence" meant some families may have lost, or may be about to lose, a loved one to cancer.

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