RCGP reaction to announcement on 'serious failure' in the national breast screening programme

Publication date: 02 May 2018

Responding to the announcement by Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt of an independent review into a 'serious failure' in the national breast screening programme in England, Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard, Chair of the Royal College of GPs, said:

"The national breast screening programme has potentially saved thousands of lives since its inception – last year alone, over 18,000 cancers were detected as a result of the programme, which might not have been detected as early otherwise.

"We are shocked to learn that hundreds of thousands of women in England have missed out on their opportunity for breast screening – and the implications for GPs and our teams will potentially be significant, as patients seek reassurance and to find out where they go from here.

"We welcome the independent review into this matter, announced today, but the priority should not be to establish blame, but to put measures in place to invite those women affected for screening, where appropriate; to ensure there are enough resources in the system to cope with any additional demand that might follow as a result; and to take steps to ensure this never happens again.

"In the meantime, we urge women not to panic and await further information - we understand that Public Health England be in touch with any women affected by the end of May.

"GPs will be advised about this at the same time as patients, so if patients are worried, we would encourage them not to contact their GP about this matter in the first instance but to contact the dedicated national helpline that has been set up – 0800 169 2692 – or to look on the NHS Choices website for more information."

Further Information

RCGP Press office: 020 3188 7633/7574/7575
Out of hours: 0203 188 7659

Notes to editor

The Royal College of General Practitioners is a network of more than 52,000 family doctors working to improve care for patients. We work to encourage and maintain the highest standards of general medical practice and act as the voice of GPs on education, training, research and clinical standards.

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