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12,000 North East women affected by breast cancer screening error

Breast cancer screening. Pic by PA.
Breast cancer screening. Pic by PA.

More than 12,000 women in the North East have been affected by failures in the country's breast screening programme, Government figures have shown.

In March it emerged that a computer error had led to thousands of women across the country not being called for routine breast cancer screening appointments.

New figures released by the Government show of the 174,000 women affected nationwide, more than 12,000 were in the North East region.

A total of 1,119 women in South Shields were affected, while there were 715 in neighbouring Jarrow.

In Sunderland, the Central constituency saw 135 women affected, in Washington and Sunderland West the figure was 110 while in Houghton and Sunderland South the number was 128.

In Hartlepool meanwhile, the figure was 224 and in Easington the number was 274.

Health secretary Jeremy Hunt said last month that as many as 270 women may have died of breast cancer unnecessarily because of a systems error which meant up to 450,000 women in England were not called for their last mammogram before they turned 70.

Women who did not have a screening after their 68th birthday will now be invited for a scan, the Government has said.

South Shields MP Emma Lewell-Buck has called on Mr Hunt to take action over the incident and also wants to know how many people in her constituency have died as a result of the erro

She said: "This shocking figure is the highest in the UK - Jeremy Hunt needs to urgently make good on his promise of more mammographers and radiologists and he should start in Shields."

Duncan Selbie, chief executive of Public Health England, said: "Our priority throughout has been the wellbeing of affected women and giving them the support they need.

"I would like to reiterate our heartfelt and unreserved apology that this has happened.

"We welcome the terms of reference of the independent review and we will work fully with them to ensure it cannot happen again."