Hospital Admits Liability in Compensation Claims for Breast Screening Errors

The North Cumbria University Hospitals NHS Trust has admitted liability in three compensation claims for breast screening errors which erroneously indicated that the women were not suffering from breast cancer.

The claims for compensation were made following the suspension of the breast screening service at the Cumberland Infirmary in Carlisle and the West Cumberland Hospital in Whitehaven in June 2010 after “serious problems” were uncovered by a Quality Assurance team.

After a major investigation into the routine screening service at the two hospitals concluded that insufficient follow-up tests were carried out, more than 1,600 mammograms were reviewed and 180 women were called back for further checks – with 16 of those originally given the all-clear now being treated for cancer.

In cases where the negligent interpretations of the mammograms and lack of follow-up tests had affected the women´s treatment, prognosis or life expectancy, those women were entitled to make compensation claims for breast screening errors and – after more than two years of waiting – the NHS Trust has now admitted liability in three of the cases.

Mike Walker, the Trust’s medical director said: “We are now in a position to accept liability in three cases and have apologised to the women involved. This organisation is committed to providing an excellent service and we recognise the importance of learning from mistakes of this nature. We have taken steps to ensure a similar incident does not occur and apologise unreservedly for shortcomings in their care.”

The two hospitals have now resumed the breast screening service under the supervision of experts from Newcastle.