Kate Kennell discusses the failure of the NHS to screen women for breast cancer and advises what to do if you or a member of your family have been affected.
The Health Secretary, Jeremy Hunt has confirmed that up to 270 women may have died due to a failure to scan for and diagnose breast cancer.
The Breast Screening Programme in England is meant to ensure that women between 50 and 70 are offered a mammogram every 3 years.
It has emerged that, since 2009, up to 450,000 women, aged 68 – 71, were not sent appointments for routine breast cancer screening by mammogram.
The error has been blamed on an algorithm failure in the breast screening IT system which failed to send women approaching their 71st birthday an invitation for their final breast scan.
The problem was spotted in January 2018 by Public Health England after an upgrade to the breast screening IT system. However, it was decided not to make it public until May 2018 to avoid the Breast Screening Programme being overwhelmed.
Jeremy Hunt has confirmed that an Independent Review will be carried out to establish how this failure can have happened and how it can be avoided in the future.
All women affected will receive a letter by the end of May and those under 72 years of age, (estimated at 390,000), will receive an invitation for a mammogram at the same time.
A help line (0800 169 2696) has also been set up for women aged over 72 years of age who may be affected.
Early detection of breast cancer through mammogram screening is crucial to early diagnosis of breast cancer, life saving treatment and a positive prognosis.
1 in 8 women will develop breast cancer in their lifetime and it is important to remember that the risk of developing breast cancer increases with age.
If you or a member of your family have been affected by the failure to receive breast screening appointments or encountered any delay in a breast cancer diagnosis, please contact Fairweathers Solicitors LLP.
We are a specialist team of clinical negligence lawyers who can help. We have vast experience of dealing with such claims in a sensitive and sympathetic manner.
Kate Kennell has more than 20 years post qualification experience. She covers a wide range of work with a particular interest and specialism in women’s health and wellbeing.