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simon mansfield

Posted 3 May 2018
by Simon Mansfield

Breast Screening Error Affecting 450,000 Women May Have Shortened up to 270 Lives

Elderly women.

Speaking in the House of Commons on 2 May 2018, Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt has announced that a computer algorithm failure dating back to 2009 has meant that an estimated 450,000 women aged between 68 and 71 were mistakenly not invited to their final breast screening, potentially leading to otherwise avoidable failures to identify breast cancer.

Announcing an independent review into the issue, the Health Secretary has stated that although at this stage it is not clear whether any delay in diagnosis resulted in any avoidable harm or death, statistical modelling (undertaken by Public Health England) indicates that there may have been 135 and 270 women who have had their lives shortened as a result.

Of those affected by this error it is estimated that 141,000 women have died and that 309,000 are still alive.

Commenting on this issue Simon Mansfield, Associate Solicitor in the Clinical Negligence Department states as follows:

This announcement will undoubtedly have come as a huge shock to those women potentially affected. Indeed (as the Health Secretary has recognised) there will be some who receive notification of the problem having had a recent diagnosis of breast cancer. Many people will also be wondering if their family members who have passed away could have been affected.

In addition to notifying women and families affected, the Health Secretary has said that they will offer a process to establish whether the missed scan led to a shortening of life. They will presumably also look at those who may have survived but undergone avoidable treatment and suffered as a result. No information has yet been provided however on how this scheme will work, how the NHS would determine those of have been materially affected, and how they would ensure that those affected are adequately compensated.

It is essential that the women and families who are adversely affected by these failings have access to independent legal representation to ensure that their cases are dealt with fairly and appropriate compensation is paid.

Tozers have experience of dealing with cases relating to breast screening failures, having secured compensation for a number of women who suffered as a result of failures at a screening unit in East Devon.  Our clinical negligence team would be happy to help anyone who is concerned that they have been affected by this mistake.

If you require any advice regarding a matter similar to this, then please do not hesitate to get in touch with our experienced team of medical negligence solicitors.

The BBC also reported on this story here

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About the author

simon mansfield

Simon Mansfield

Partner and Solicitor

Partner and solicitor within the clinical negligence team and an accredited member of the Law Society's clinical negligence panel