New figures show almost 7,500 women in Suffolk and north Essex affected by breast screening error
PUBLISHED: 23:05 05 June 2018 | UPDATED: 11:00 06 June 2018
The true impact of the national breast screening scandal in Suffolk and north Essex has been revealed.
New figures show almost 7,500 women who live in those areas of the region and are still alive today were affected by the error.
They were among the 174,000 women aged 68 to 71 nationwide who were not invited to their final routine breast screening between 2009 and May 2018 due to a computer glitch. Of those affected, up to 130,000 are still alive.
Health secretary Jeremy Hunt first brought the “serious failing” to light in May.
He has this week provided a full picture of the scandal via a written statement to parliament.
Mr Hunt had initially warned between 135 and 270 women may have had their lives cut short as a result of the blunder, but this has now been revised to fewer than 75.
Statistics released by Mr Hunt show 4,412 women in Suffolk who missed their final screening have been offered a new appointment.
Suffolk Coastal was the worst hit constituency, with 840 letters sent.
The figure stood at 551 in Ipswich, 637 in Central Suffolk and North Ipswich, and 699 in Bury St Edmunds
There were a further 597 appointments offered in South Suffolk, 377 in West Suffolk and 711 in Waveney.
In light of the new revelations, Ipswich MP Sandy Martin has tonight taken to Twitter to show his backing for a campaign by charity Breast Cancer Now calling for more staff to be brought in to support the breast screening programme.
Across north-Essex, 3,021 women have been offered a catch-up screening, including 504 in Colchester and 504 in Clacton-on-Sea.
There were 394 letters issued in Harwich and North Essex, 406 in Maldon, 395 in Braintree, 392 in Chelmsford and 426 in Witham.
All those affected who want to be screened will be seen by the end of October, Mr Hunt said.
He added: “I would like to repeat my wholehearted and unreserved apology to the women affected and their families – and above all reassure them that we are working hard to understand what went wrong and what we need to do to stop similar incidents from happening in the future.”
The national breast screening programme is run by Public Health England and automatically invites women between the ages of 50 and 70 for a test every three years.