Missed Cancer Screening Letters and the Potential Impact
The Health Secretary announced to MPs recently that there has been a ‘serious failure’ in the NHS breast cancer screening programme as a result of an IT issue which was only discovered in January this year and dates back to 2009.
It has been reported that hundreds of women may have died prematurely because they were not sent the letters for their final routine breast cancer screening between 2009 and 2018.
An independent review has now been ordered to look at the administrative error and Mr Hunt apologised for the suffering and devastation caused.
The NHS screens all women between the ages of 50 and 70 for breast cancer every three years. The revelation that some of these women may have been missed off the system is likely to cause wide scale concern and distress.
What can you do if you find yourself in this situation as a relative of someone who has passed away or as someone who is currently in the above age bracket?
The Health Secretary advised that women who were affected would be contacted by their GP and other sources comment that the next-of-kin of women who missed a scan and died of breast cancer will be contacted.
Of course, a legal claim is a possibility and in order to succeed, you will have to demonstrate that there has been a breach of duty and that the breach has caused you or your family to be in a worse position.
If the final routine breast cancer screening letter was not sent out because of the IT error, then a breach of duty of care is likely to be established. It will then have to be shown that this administrative error has left you in a worse condition that if you had of received that letter and attended the screening.
The admission from the Health Secretary that hundreds of women may have died prematurely because they did not receive the letters shows that women’s lives may have been shortened and therefore their relatives may be entitled to claim. You may also be entitled to a claim if there was a significant delay in detecting the breast cancer because you did not received a letter when you were supposed too and the outcome would have been materially different if you had of received that letter.
If you or a family member has been effected by this and you would like to know more about next steps, contact the clinical negligence team.