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IT supplier embroiled in breast cancer screening row hits back at suggestions its software was to blame for the fiasco
- Hitachi Consulting said its algorithm met the requirements set by health officals
- The firm said it had raised concerns with Public Health England about the scans
- Jeremy Hunt said as many as 270 women may have had their lives cut short
The IT supplier embroiled in a row over breast cancer screening row has denied that its software was to blame for failures which may have seen 270 people die early.
Hitachi Consulting sources said the algorithm that its computers had used met the specifications that health officials had required.
The firm also said it had raised concerns with Public Health England that some women were being denied scans but no action was taken.
One source said the programme was ‘doing exactly what it was supposed to’ with the instructions given by officials, The Daily Telegraph reports.
The IT supplier embroiled in a row over breast cancer screening row has denied that its software was to blame for failures which may have seen 270 people die early
A different source told the newspaper: ‘In March 2017, [concerns] were escalated to senior officials at PHE. They didn’t call it up.’
Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt revealed on Wednesday that 450,000 women aged 68 to 71 had not been invited to their final routine screening.
An independent review has been launched into the computer error, which Mr Hunt said was discovered in January and dates back to 2009.
However, as early as March 2017, two breast cancer screening centres in London and the West Midlands raised concerns some women were not being invited for mammograms.
Software provider Hitachi Consulting said at the time it was a local problem and the full scale of the issue was not realised until January, Public Health England (PHE) said.
The company has already denied it is responsible for the blunder, which Mr Hunt said may have led up to 270 women to have their lives cut short.
Hitachi Consulting, based in Dallas (office pictured), has had a contract to run the software for the NHS’s breast cancer screening programme since 2015
More than 10,000 calls have been made to a dedicated helpline for those affected, while charity Breast Cancer Care said it had also seen increased demand on its own helpline.
Women in England between the ages of 50 and 70 are currently automatically invited for breast cancer screening every three years.
Of those who missed invitations, 309,000 are estimated to still be alive and all those living in the UK who are registered with a GP will be contacted before the end of May.
All women who were not sent an invitation for their final screening will be given the opportunity to have a new appointment.
Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt revealed on Wednesday that 450,000 women aged 68 to 71 had not been invited to their final routine screening
Dame Elizabeth Anionwu, emeritus professor of nursing at the University of West London, believes she is one of those affected by the error.
The 70-year-old’s last mammogram was in 2013, but she did not receive an invitation for her next screening in 2016.
When she called the helpline she was surprised to be told she may have to wait up to six months for a catch-up screening.
‘It’s not necessarily that I was panicking about getting breast cancer before then, but I had a sort of realisation of the enormity of what must be going on,’ she said.
‘I could imagine it could cause a lot of anxiety for people who now know they are in this group, but may have to wait until October to get the breast screening appointment.’
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