Almost a decade of missed appointments
The government has admitted to an IT error which has caused approximately 450,000 women to miss out on breast screening since 2009. Of those women, it is estimated that up to 270 may have died prematurely as a result, whilst others have had breast cancer identified at a late stage, some too late to start treatment.
The error was identified in January this year when an upgrade to an IT system revealed that women enrolled in a long-running study led by Oxford University, known as the AgeX trial, were not receiving final screening invitations around the time of their 70th birthday. This finding prompted a further review which highlighted the same problem nationwide.
The Health and Social Care Secretary, Jeremy Hunt has apologised for the error, announcing an independent review to establish how many women were affected and how this went unnoticed for almost a decade. He confirmed that women may be owed compensation.
What is breast cancer?
According to the NHS, breast cancer is the most common type of cancer in the UK. It mostly affects women over 50, however it can affect younger women, and in rare cases it can affect men. Breast cancer is usually classified as either invasive or non-invasive.
Guidance provided by the NHS advises that you contact your GP if you notice any of the symptoms of breast cancer, including:
- a new lump or area of thickened tissue in either breast that was not there before
- a change in the size or shape of one or both breasts
- bloodstained discharge from either of your nipples
- a lump or swelling in either of your armpits
- dimpling on the skin of your breasts
- a rash on or around your nipple
- a change in the appearance of your nipple, such as becoming sunken into your breast
What is NHS breast cancer screening?
- Women aged between 50-70 are invited for routine mammogram with their last routine appointment being around their 70th birthday. Provided they are registered with a GP, enrollment is automatic.
- Mammograms screen for lumps or abnormalities that could be or have the potential to be breast cancer.
- Routine screenings are offered every three years.
What can you do if you have not had a routine breast cancer screening appointment?
If you have not been called for a routine breast cancer screening appointment, it could be because you were one of the 450,000 women who were missed as a result of the IT error.
You may be entitled to claim compensation for medical negligence arising from the breast screening error if you can show that you have suffered as a direct result of the failure to invite you for routine breast screening e.g. you have gone on to develop breast cancer which would otherwise have been identified as a result of screening and treated earlier.
Time limits for making a breast cancer screening negligence claim
You have three years in which to make a medical negligence claim, either from the date the negligence occurred, or the date you knew (or ought to reasonably have known) there was potential for negligence. Because this issue has only just come to light, it is likely that the 3 year period will have only recently commenced, but it is advisable not to delay seeking legal advice.
How we can help you
We are already pursuing legal action in respect of this scandal and are standing by to assist more women. If you believe that you have missed out on breast cancer screening as a result of the NHS error and have since been identified as having a condition that would otherwise have been picked up during the screening process, or you are a relative of a loved one who may have passed away prematurely because of the NHS failure, then you can call our Legal Helpline on 0333 888 0404 for a free assessment of your case. Alternatively you can email us at [email protected]
Your enquiry will be handled in confidence with compassion and sensitivity. You can always ask to speak to a female member of the team if you prefer.
Claims are dealt with on a No Win, No Fee basis, so fear of legal costs should not deter anyone from seeking justice.