Dobson orders inquiry into breast-screening service

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The Independent Online
An inquiry into a local breast-screening service was ordered by Frank Dobson, the Secretary of State for Health, yesterday, following delays in the diagnosis of 12 women who developed breast cancer.

Answering an emergency Commons question, an irate Mr Dobson said he was "not satisfied" with the performance of the East Devon Breast Screening Service which announced last week that it was rechecking the records of 1,900 women. He is understood to have been angered by the time it took to identify the problem after concerns were first raised by medical staff. The two NHS trusts that run the service, the Royal Devon and Exeter and the South Devon, were also unable to confirm how many women were involved in the rechecking exercise.

More than 2,000 women have called helplines set up after the announcement last Thursday that problems with the breast-screening service had led to the delayed diagnosis of 12 women, two of whom had died. The problem arose over the interpretation of tiny deposits of calcium in the breast, which can be a warning sign of cancer. The two consultant radiologists who ran the service, Dr John Brennan and Dr Graham Urqhart, have agreed to undergo retraining. A total of 4,000 records are to be rechecked.