Breast Cancer scandal: 270 woman died after NHS computer error denied screenings
03 May, 2018, 12:04 | Author: Rafael Roberts
In a Parliamentary statement, Hunt said almost half a million women between the age of 68 and 71 were not invited to their final breast screening as a result of the failure.
Up to 270 patients may have lost their lives needlessly due to an IT error that caused 450,000 women to miss cancer screenings, the health secretary has today announced.
"He said there could be 135 to 270 women who ". had their lives shortened as a result" of the failure.
It is thought that women in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland were not affected.
It was escalated to ministers in March by Public Health England (PHE), with the Government told the error should not be made public to ensure existing screening services were not overwhelmed.
Jeremy Hunt said Wednesday in Parliament that the mistake appeared to be the result of a "computer algorithm failure" dating back to 2009.
The failings started in 2009 but were only discovered this January.
At the time of the discovery, Hunt said, Public Health England advised him that the public should not be told to allow time for remedial measures to be put in place.
Samia al Qadhi, Chief Executive of Breast Cancer Care, said: Hundreds of thousands of women across England have been failed by this appalling error and some have had their lives shortened as a result.
"We know this will unfortunately be incredibly hard news for many women to hear".
He revealed that a computer algorithm failure meant women who had just turned 70 were not sent an invitation for a breast scan as they should have been.
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He says the government will reach out to the the next of kin of any of those who missed a scan and died of breast cancer.
"A complex IT problem with the breast screening invitation system has led to some women not being invited for their final screen between their sixty-eighth and seventy-first birthdays".
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".
'Following independent expert clinical advice, the letters will inform all those under 75 that they will automatically be sent an invitation to a catch up screening'.
"The Welsh administration doesn't believe that this problem has affected them, even though they were using the same IT system that we were using in England, but that is their view".
Women who are concerned about whether they had missed a screening can call 0800 169 2692.
Hunt said he was "not aware of any evaluations that have been shared with the Department of Health that could have brought this problem to light", but said the inquiry would look at the matter.
The Royal College of Global Positioning System welcomed the independent review and urged women affected not to panic.
"Many families will be deeply disturbed by these revelations, not least because there will be some people who receive a letter having had a recent diagnosis of breast cancer".
"We also need to get to the bottom of precisely how many people were affected, why it happened and most importantly how we can prevent it from ever happening again".
All women affected will receive letters by the end of the month.
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