Thousands of women in Suffolk and north Essex affected by breast cancer screening scandal

8th June 2018

Thousands of women in Suffolk and north Essex affected by breast cancer screening scandal

More than 7,000 women in Suffolk and north Essex are among the 174,000 who missed out on breast cancer screening because of an IT error, new figures have revealed.

An independent inquiry was launched last month after the Government admitted around 75 women had died prematurely as a result of the technical mistake, which dates back to 2009.

Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt revealed this week that 4,412 women in Suffolk who missed their final screening have been offered a new appointment. Suffolk Coastal was the worst hit constituency, with 840 letters sent. The figure stood at 551 in Ipswich, 637 in Central Suffolk and North Ipswich, and 699 in Bury St Edmunds.

There were a further 597 appointments offered in South Suffolk, 377 in West Suffolk and 711 in Waveney, the East Anglian Daily Times reported.

Across north-Essex, 3,021 women have been offered a catch-up screening, including 504 in Colchester and 504 in Clacton-on-Sea. There were 394 letters issued in Harwich and North Essex, 406 in Maldon, 395 in Braintree, 392 in Chelmsford and 426 in Witham.

Women age 50 to 70 are invited for an x-ray mammogram every three years to detect any lumps or abnormalities that could be or become breast cancer.

However, a technical issue dating back to 2009 and only identified in 2018 was responsible for some women in England missing out on the last of their regular invitations for screening.

Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt said the Government originally estimated that between 135 and 270 women had died prematurely as a result of the failing – however, he has since reduced that figure to 75.

All those affected who want to be screened will be seen by the end of October, Mr Hunt said.

He added: “I would like to repeat my wholehearted and unreserved apology to the women affected and their families – and above all reassure them that we are working hard to understand what went wrong and what we need to do to stop similar incidents from happening in the future.”

Samia al Qadhi, Chief Executive of Breast Cancer Care, said last month it was “shocking” that almost a decade had passed before the mistake was discovered.
“Women affected and their loved ones will be left reeling, both scared and confused,” she added. “The number one priority now must be to ensure that they get all the support and information they need.”

How can our Medical Negligence team help?

A delayed diagnosis can have catastrophic consequences for patients – potentially meaning the difference between full recovery and permanent harm or even death.

The medical negligence team at Gotelee regularly represents patients who have suffered injury or harm caused by the delayed diagnosis and treatment of their illness or condition.

A delay may be due to negligence, including misinterpretation of test results, failure to notice or respond to a specified set of symptoms, or a failure to refer the patient to an appropriate specialist or hospital for further investigation or treatment. In that situation, there may be the basis for making a claim.

If you think you have been affected by delayed diagnosis or another form of medical negligence, contact us on 01473 298125.

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