Compensation for failed breast cancer screening victims
compensation for delays in diagnosis could rise to £100m
Due to a decade-long glitch in a computer programme used by the NHS, 450,000 women aged 68-71 were not invited for their final breast cancer screening. The computer system for generating screening appointment invites was recently updated and the glitch became apparent. Instead of using women’s 71st birthday as the parameter, the computer programme was using 70 as the cut-off point, causing thousands of women to miss key appointments.
The glitch may have caused up to 270 women to have died as a result and around 6000 missed cancer cases. Whilst addressing the commons Jeremy hunt said: “tragically there are likely to be some people in this group who would have been alive today if the failure had not happened.”
The question is now – what do health officials plan to do for the affected women?
A helpline has already been set up for those who think they may have been affected. The helpline received over 8000 calls by Thursday morning and Charites across the country reported a surge in concern. As well as this, automatic screening invitations will be made available to all those aged under 72, for those aged 72 and over, they can call the helpline to determine whether a screening is the best option for them. A review has also been set up for the failings that will take up to six months to complete.
But what about the women whose lives were forfeit for the failings? What about the people who have lost mothers, grandmothers, sisters, aunts and close friends to a computer glitch?
Clinical negligence specialists estimate that compensating the victims’ families for the potential 270 women who died as a result of the error could cost £100 million.
The compensation can also extend to the women who have survived but had to undergo more invasive surgeries than would have been necessary had the glitch not occurred.
Lawyers have explained that money would not be used simply to compensate any deaths but also to compensate the pain and suffering of the families and expenses – these could include the cost of continuing care for terminally ill women.
Although there have been recent attacks on the success of mass screening, there still undoubtedly remains a failure that went unnoticed for a decade. A failure that prevented 450,000 women from finding out whether mass screening programmes worked themselves.
Compensation should be in place to help the families of victims and survivors of the NHS errors. But the sad fact still remains, that no amount of money can bring back the women who were lost.
If you have been affected by the screening failures then the helpline number is: 0800 169 2692
If you think you have been a victim of clinical negligence then we will be happy to discuss your case on our free phone number below.