Thursday, 16 August, 2018

Jeremy Hunt to launch inquiry into 450000 missed breast cancer screenings

Women should be tested for breast cancer at age 30 experts say Modal Trigger Shutterstock
Ginger Lopez | 03 May, 2018, 16:05

The failings started in 2009 but were only discovered this January.

"At this stage, it is unclear whether any delay in diagnosis would have resulted in any avoidable harm or death", he said, but added that "our current estimate", which is based on statistical modelling, "is that there may be between 135 and 270 women that had their lives shortened as a result".

He announced an independent review and apologised "wholeheartedly and unreservedly" to the women and their families.

Now hundreds of thousands of women are learning they could have to wait up to six months to be checked for breast cancers after the "colossal failure".

Mr Hunt confirmed work is ongoing between the United Kingdom and Welsh governments to ensure the letters are sent out to everyone.

Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard said: 'We are shocked to learn that hundreds of thousands of women in England have missed out on their opportunity for breast screening - and the implications for Global Positioning System and our teams will potentially be significant, as patients seek reassurance and to find out where they go from here.

Patients in England were affected but it is thought that patients in Scotland and Wales were not.

"Potentially we are talking about 450,000 women who could have died, it is all very well saying only a percentage but we are not born as a percentage of anything, we are a person".

PHE has invited them all to receive the screening.




The screening process is overseen by Public Health England, which uses an IT system to send out invitations.

That system is supported by three sub-systems: Breast Screening Select, Breast Screening Information System and the National Breast Screening System.

The estimated 309,000 women who are still alive and living in the United Kingdom will be contacted, with 65,000 letters being sent out this week.

Screening programmes are run separately across the United Kingdom and so this issue only affects women registered with a GP in England.

Up to 270 women may have died as a result of the computer error.

The letter should explain the next steps to be taken, advising all those under the age of 75 that they will "automatically be sent an invitation to a catch-up screening", Mr Hunt said.

'We must also recognise that there may be some who receive a letter having had a recent terminal diagnosis.

Breast cancer makes up almost 50% of all cancers diagnosed among women in Wales aged between 35 and 54 and accounts for almost a third of all cancers in all women.

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

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