NHS Breast Cancer Screening Programme

As many of you will be aware from the national news, the Health Secretary, the Rt. Hon. Jeremy Hunt MP, yesterday announced that an historic failing in the NHS Breast Cancer Screening Programme had been identified which meant that some women aged between 68 and 71 were not invited to their final breast screening appointment. The Health Secretary has apologised wholeheartedly and unreservedly for the distress and suffering caused.

This is a hugely concerning issue and I am sure there will be women in South Derbyshire who are worried right now which is why I wanted to write to set out the scale of the problem and highlight what action the Government is taking:

  • The error in the Programme was present from 2009-2018 and meant that in the region of 450,000 women aged between 68 and 71 were not invited to their final breast screening appointment
  • The Government estimates that between 135 and 270 women may have had their lives tragically shortened as a result of this error.
  • Urgent remedial work has been carried out on the IT system concerned and the problem has been resolved. This will not affect anyone from now on.  
  • All women affected by the failing, living in the UK and who are registered with a GP will receive a letter before the end of May 2018.
  • 65,000 letters will be sent out to those affected this week.
  • There is a telephone number for support and help: 0800 169 2692.
  • All women affected who wish to be screened will receive an appointment within the next 6 months at the latest.

In a sensitive move, the Department of Health and Social Care will also be contacting the appropriate next of kin for those who were not invited to a final scan and have since passed away as a result of breast cancer. An apology will of course be offered in addition to advice on processes for establishing if the missed scan is a likely cause of death and compensation payable as a result.

Finally, an independent inquiry has been commissioned to look into the failings of the NHS Breast Screening Programme which will report back to Parliament in 6 months time.

I am keen to help those affected in any way I can. If you are a South Derbyshire resident and would like me to help then please email me with your full South Derbyshire address at heather.wheeler.mp@parliament.uk or call my office on 01283 225 365.