The Health Secretary, Jeremy Hunt, has said that up to 270 women in England may have died because they did not receive invitations to a final breast cancer screening due to a computer error.  450,000 women aged 68-71 failed to get invitations since 2009.  Of those 450,000 women, 309,000 are still alive.

All of those affected should receive a letter by the end of May and, if under 72 years of age, receive an appointment for a mammogram to be performed within 6 months.

What is breast screening

The NHS Choices website says that 1 in 8 women in the UK are diagnosed with breast cancer at some point during their life.  Early detection is the key to successful treatment and recovery.

Breast screening is done by way of a special x-ray, called a mammogram which spots cancers when they’re too small to see.

The risk of developing breast cancer increases with age, so all women aged 50 to 70 are automatically invited for breast cancer screening every 3 years.

The NHS estimates that around 1,300 breast cancer deaths are avoided each year as a result of screening.  Occasionally those cancers can be missed, or the results can show a ‘false positive’, leading to unnecessary tests and treatment.  The NHS and Cancer Research UK estimates that for every death prevented, 3 women are over diagnosed and offered unnecessary screening.

What to do if you think you have been affected

  • Call the helpline 0800 169 2692
  • Go to the NHS Choices website for more information
  • You should receive a letter by the end of May

In most cases, it is likely that, as a result of this error, no harm has been caused.  However, if you or a family member has been affected, and you suspect some harm has been caused as a result, you may be entitled to compensation.

If that is the case, please call us on 0113 284 5000 or email A member of our team will listen to your story and deal with your enquiry in a sensitive matter.

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