Breast screening disaster: statement from AvMA

Published: 2 May 2018

The patient safety charity Action against Medical Accidents (AvMA) is warning that the more the NHS is reliant on technology, the greater risk there is that the breast screening disaster announced by Jeremy Hunt may be repeated in different ways.

The charity welcomed the review which is being convened but says it must look at the bigger picture of the risk of various technology failures that can affect large numbers of people. AvMA is also critical of the way families are being communicated with.

AvMA chief executive Peter Walsh said:

“My heart goes out to the women who are now worried that they should have been screened earlier and the families of women who have died of breast cancer who must know be worrying that this might have been avoidable.

“The communication with them has not been handled well at all and some women have been in contact with ourselves to ensure that they can get independent advice about their rights and support with the process they now face. These women should not have had to find out about this through the media. They are now faced with waiting to see whether they receive a letter telling them they are one of those affected. That is a dreadful position for anyone to be in.

“The Government should prioritise making women as safe as possible as quickly as possible. However, consideration should be given to a special compensation scheme for families where women’s premature deaths are suspected of having been potentially avoidable. Last year’s cyber attacks were a warning call. There must be a thorough risk assessment of NHS technologies which are susceptible to failure that can cost lives”