The Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt is to launch an inquiry into an IT error which has resulted in 450,000 women aged between 68 and 71 missing critical breast cancer screening.
The screening programme started in 1988, inviting women over the age of 50 to undergo a mammogram to detect early signs of cancer. Earlier this year, a review of AgeX, a major NHS trial to determine whether the screening could protect older women from breast cancer, was reviewed and highlighted the IT error.
The mistake meant that women approaching their 71st birthday did not receive an invitation for a further mammogram as they should have done.
Of the 450,000 women affected, 309,000 are still alive. Mr Hunt informed the House of Commons that it is estimated that up to 270 women have died because of the error, with further women having had their life expectancy shortened.
Mr Hunt has announced that all women affected by the error will receive a letter to notify them and invite them for a mammogram by the end of May. The first set of notifications was sent out last week.
As with most cancers, the key to a better prognosis is early detection and treatment. The Penningtons Manches clinical negligence team frequently advises on matters where there has been a delay in diagnosis of cancer. If you or a member of your family has been affected by the recent IT error, a member of our specialist oncology team would be happy to assist you.
You can call the breast cancer screening helpline number on 0800 169 2692.
For care, support and information, contact Breast Cancer Care free on 0808 800 600 and Breast Cancer Now on 0333 20 70 300, or visit their websites: http://breastcancer-charity.org/ and http://breastcancernow.org/.