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2 May 2018 | Comment | Article by Ruth Powell

Women’s lives put at risk due to NHS England breast cancer screening oversight

This afternoon Jeremy Hunt has issued an apology to hundreds of women whose health may have been put at risk due to an IT error.

Speaking in the Commons today Mr Hunt admitted that approximately 450,000 women between the ages of 68 and 71 did not receive a routine invitation for breast screening since 2009. Whilst the cause of this error has been put down to an administrative upgrade of the IT system, a full independent enquiry has been promised.

However, whilst Mr Hunt apologised “wholeheartedly” to those affected by the error and confirmed that those affected will be contacted; many have been left wondering just how crucial this mistake may have been. NHS England offers screening for breast cancer for women between the ages of 50 to 70 on a 3 yearly basis in order to detect early signs of cancer. As with any illness early detection can improve a patient’s condition and prognosis.

How many people has this affected?

Experts have already estimated that this mistake may have affected between 135 and 270 women.  Mr Hunt admitted today that statistically this means that “there are likely to be some people in this group who would have been alive today if this failure had not happened.”

Your next steps if you think you may be affected

Understandably this announcement has left many people concerned about their health and the screening process. It is recommended that if you believe that you or a loved one may be affected you should contact the breast screening helpline number on 0800 169 2692, consult the NHS Choices Website or contact your local GP for more information.

If you are looking for advice

At Hugh James we deal regularly with cases involving the missed and delayed diagnosis of illness such as breast cancer and understand how devastating these mistakes can be to families. If you believe that you, or a loved one, have been subject to similar negligence at the hands of your GP, local health board or Trust; Hugh James can advise you. Hugh James is ranked in the top tier for our expert clinical negligence advice by both major legal guides Chambers and Partners and Legal 500.

Simply get in touch with us at 033 0058 5077 or visit our medical negligence page for more information.

Author bio

Ruth is a Partner and Head of our Clinical Negligence Department. She has exclusively practised in clinical negligence since qualifying in 1995 and has a wealth of experience in complex and high value clinical negligence claims.

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