The Health Secretary, Jeremy Hunt, has made a follow up statement to Parliament today about the 'serious failure' of the Breast Screening Programme in England, addressing the number of women impacted by what happened.
Whilst he's confirmed that the error has affected fewer women then previously thought, we’re calling for more specialist staff in radiology and mammography so that all women who need appointments can get them.
Read Jeremy Hunt's statement in full on the Parliament website.
Fiona Hazell, Director of Policy and Engagement at Breast Cancer Now, said:
“It’s good to hear that fewer women have been affected by the screening error than previously announced, but this will be no more reassuring to those who missed their invitations.
“What remains most important is that each and every woman affected has been identified and given all the information and support they need to make an informed choice about whether to attend catch-up screening where appropriate. While the risk of breast cancer increases with age, and early detection helps offer the best chance of survival, research is ongoing to find out whether the long-term benefits of screening for women over 70 outweigh the risks.
“While this more complete information offers some much-needed clarity, further action from the Government is needed urgently. With tens of thousands of women having rightly been offered catch-up appointments, we need to see screening workforce expanded to cope with the increased demand while maintaining routine screening.
“For those women who developed breast cancers that could have been picked up earlier through screening, and the estimated 75 women who have had their lives shortened, this remains a devastating failure. The independent review must now thoroughly investigate how this was allowed to happen and ensure it can never be repeated. ”
Breast screening is so important. Women aged 50-70 are invited to screening because the earlier breast cancer is found, the better the outcomes for patients. If you want more information about the risks and benefits of screening, check out our comprehensive guide to breast cancer screening.