For the first time the Government have revealed the number of women in Merseyside who have been affected by the breast cancer screening scandal.

The computer error which occurred between 2009 and the start of 2018, meant that more than 7,500 women across the Merseyside region were not sent letters between their 68th and 71st birthday for their final routine breast scan.

Serious breast cancer screening failure

Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt said in the House of Commons that the ‘serious failure’ of the Breast Screening Programme in England had affected less women than the previously thought figure, estimated to be around the 174,000 mark.

MPs have now for the first time been sent a specific breakdown of exactly how many women in each of their constituencies have been affected by the computer error.

Across Merseyside’s 15 Parliamentary constituencies, Government statistics suggest that in total there were 5,801 women who did not receive their final screening invitations because of the error.

Statistics of women across Merseyside affected

The number of women affected from each Merseyside constituency:

Merseyside ConstituencyNumber of Women affected
Garston and Halewood 575
Wirral South575
Sefton Central444
Wirral West411
Liverpool Walton357
Liverpool West Derby356
St Helens North and Whiston337
Liverpool Wavertree334
Liverpool Riverside327
St Helens North292

In a statement the health secretary said that all women affected by the error were due to be screened by October.

Jeremy Hunt, says “I can confirm that, over the last 4 weeks, the NHS has put in place an additional 68,000 screening appointments nationally and is on track to ensure that all women affected who want a screen will be seen by the end of October, without impacting on other patients.”

To cope with the increased demand of women who will need to be urgently assessed, leading charity Breast Cancer Now has called upon the government to expand the screening workforce.

“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”. Fiona Hazell, Director of Policy and Engagement at Breast Cancer Now

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Early detection of breast cancer

Ongoing research continues, to find out whether the long-term benefits of screening women over 70 outweigh the risks, as the risk of breast cancer increases with age, early detection helps offer the best chance of survival.

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