The NHS breast cancer screening scandal: who has been affected?

03 May, 2018, 20:38 | Author: Kara Nash
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Dr Jenny Harries, PHE deputy medical director said: "Local breast screening services are now working closely with NHS England and PHE to ensure that all of the women affected are contacted and offered the opportunity for a screen".

Under the United Kingdom health system, Patricia Minchin was due to have a mammogram five years ago after she turned 70, but the notification never arrived.

Brian Gough/PA Brian Gough and his wife Trixie Gough, 76.

A think tank has questioned why the error, for which the health secretary has apologised, was not spotted sooner.

Jeremy Hunt revealed that since 2009, 450,000 women between the ages of 68 - 71 had failed to receive invites to crucial breast cancer screenings.

But Jeremy Hunt told the Commons that 450,000 women aged 68 to 71 did not receive invitations to a final routine breast cancer screening because of a computer glitch.

"Our current best estimate, which comes with caveats ... is that there may be between 135 and 270 women who had their lives shortened as a result", he said.

"I look back now and think everything that happened since could possibly have been avoided or lessened", Ms Minchin told the BBC.


"It just hit me and I thought good God", the 77-year-old from Norfolk said. "We need to do more work to understand why black women, even at similar income and education levels, seem to be more vulnerable to financial toxicity of breast cancer". When was the last time you got a breast scan?

The widower said: "I can't express how sad it is". Launched in 1993, the Carolina Breast Cancer Study aims to improve the understanding of breast cancer, and particularly why the disease's fatality rate is higher in African-American women. Breast Cancer Now CEO Delyth Morgan told the Guardian it was "beyond belief" that the issue continued for a decade.

A fix was put in place on 1 April, with Mr Hunt saying no women were at risk from the error going forward.

"It's hugely significant, we have to be concerned about confidence in the screening service".

Up to 309,000 women aged between 70 and 79 - those who are still alive - will now be offered the opportunity for a catch-up breast screening test this year, but it has come too late for many women who may have died, are living with long-term complications or have suffered unduly through debilitating chemotherapy and radiotherapy.

The Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) has questioned why health chiefs did not raise any alarms. He ordered an independent review.

As an attempt to start changing things, women affected will be contacted by letter from the NHS before the end of May.

A Cumbrian MP is calling for urgent clarification on whether any local women have been affected by national breast screening errors. But this will only be true for a small proportion, and nothing will be said to the far larger number of (unidentifiable) women who would otherwise have faced diagnosis and treatment for a condition that would never have harmed them.

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