Hartlepool MP described cancer screening error as a ‘scandal’

Up to 75 women may have died early following blunders in a breast screening, according to latest estimates.
Up to 75 women may have died early following blunders in a breast screening, according to latest estimates.

Hartlepool’s MP says its is a scandal that hundreds of women across Hartlepool and East Durham failed to be given a potentially life-saving breast cancer check due to an IT error.

More than 12,000 women across the North East and 174,000 nationwide have been affected by failures in the country’s breast screening programme, Government figures have shown.

In Hartlepool, the figure stands at 224, while in Easington the number who missed out on receiving an invite to a mammogram scan stands at 274.

Hartlepool MP Mr Hill said: “I think it is a scandal of which the Department for Health and the Secretary of State Jeremy Hunt should be ashamed.

“Everybody knows somebody who has been affected by cancer and all of us know that the key to survival in most cases is to find it early. The loss of these appointments for many women have cost them their lives. This is unacceptable.

“224 women in Hartlepool have been caught up in this scandal and 12,000 in the whole of the North East. This is a catastrophic failure of duty by the Department for Health and I will be holding the Secretary of State to account on this.

“Women are dying as a result of an administrative oversight and so it should be the head of the administration, Jeremy Hunt, who answers for the problem.”

Health secretary Jeremy Hunt said last month that as many as 270 women may have died of breast cancer unnecessarily because of a system error, but that figure has since been revised to 75.

As a result of the IT issue, women aged between 68 and 71 were not invited to their final breast screening between 2009 and up into May this year.

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