NATIONAL: Victims of breast screening failure call for answers

Breast Cancer screening.
Breast Cancer screening.

WOMEN and their families caught up in the breast screening failure have demanded answers as to how hundreds of patients may have had their lives cut short.

Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt has launched an independent review after he revealed a computer error dating back to 2009 meant many women aged 68 to 71 in England were not invited to their final routine screening.

He admitted 450,000 women could be affected, and that between 135 and 270 women could have had their lives shortened as a result.

Baroness Delyth Morgan, chief executive at Breast Cancer Now, said it was a ‘colossal systemic failure’.

Widower Brian Gough said his wife Trixie never received a letter inviting her to go for a screening in 2009 - and that a scan in October 2010 revealed she had stage-three breast cancer.

The 77-year-old from Norfolk told the Press Association he was watching the television on Wednesday when the news of the screening error broke, leaving him ‘shell shocked’.

He said: ‘There has always got to be some blame these things don’t just happen ... it is never the computer that goes wrong it is the person that put the information in or took it out.

‘Somebody somewhere along the line has made a massive error - we are talking 450,000 letters that should have gone out.’

On Wednesday Mr Hunt said ‘administrative incompetence meant some families may have lost, or may be about to lose, a loved one to cancer.

Women in England between the ages of 50 and 70 are currently automatically invited for breast cancer screening every three years.