A CITY MP has called for urgent action after it emerged that 185 women who live in York Central were not invited for their final breast cancer screening appointment.

Public Health England said it has made a “heartfelt and unreserved apology” in response to the latest figures which reveal that 185 women aged between 68 and 71 in York failed to receive invites to potentially lifesaving screening.

The figures have been described as “extremely concerning” by Breast Cancer Now.

Nationally, an oversight of the NHS screening programme meant as many as 174,000 women were not invited to their final screening – of whom, 130,000 are still alive. Up to 75 lives are known to have been cut short by the error.

York Central MP Rachael Maskell has written to York Teaching Hospital NHS Foundation Trust to urge it to take immediate action.

Ms Maskell said: “I have examined the figures provided by the Secretary of State, and in York Central, 185 women are affected.

“York Teaching Hospital now needs to urgently provide support to these women, and to ensure those that would like a catch-up appointment can be screened as soon as possible. While this has been a major setback, the Breast Screening Programme remains key to early detection, preventing around 1,300 deaths from breast cancer each year in England. We now need to understand how this was allowed to happen and take steps to make sure it can never be repeated.”

Computer system failures meant thousands of women aged 68 to 71 were not invited to their final routine screening between 2009 and May 2018.

Public Health England did not respond when asked whether any of the women who died prematurely are from the York area.

Eluned Hughes, head of public health and information at Breast Cancer Now, said: “It’s extremely concerning that 185 women in York Central did not receive their invites to breast screening. What’s most important is that these women are now given all the information they need to make an informed choice about whether to attend catch-up screening.

“But with tens of thousands of women having rightly been offered catch-up mammograms across England, we also now need the Government to urgently deliver on its promise to expand the workforce to cope with this increased demand while maintaining routine screening.

“Whilst screening is vital in detecting breast cancer at an early, more treatable stage, it’s also important that all women check their breasts regularly. There’s no special technique and you don’t need any training. Just get to know what looks and feels normal for you, check regularly, and report any unusual changes to your GP.”

An emergency helpline set up to speak to women concerned they had been affected has received 46,000 calls.

All those affected who want to be screened will be seen by the end of October, the health secretary Jeremy Hunt said.

Screening is a procedure that allows doctors to catch breast cancer while it is still in its infancy and therefore easier to treat.

It involves an X-ray test – known as a mammogram – to check for signs of cancer which are too small to see or feel.

A “failure” stretching back to 2009 with a computer algorithm meant invitations were not sent to all those who should have received them.

Mr Hunt said: “Our cancer screening programme is widely recognised as world-leading, but on this occasion a number of women have been let down.

“It is now clear that this may have resulted in significant harm for a small number of women, while thousands more have faced unnecessary distress and anxiety as they waited to hear if they have been affected.

“I would like to repeat my wholehearted and unreserved apology to the women affected and their families – and above all reassure them that we are working hard to understand what went wrong and what we need to do to stop similar incidents from happening in the future.”

Duncan Selbie, chief executive of Public Health England, said: “Our priority throughout has been the wellbeing of affected women and giving them the support they need. I would like to reiterate our heartfelt and unreserved apology that this has happened. We welcome the terms of reference of the independent review and we will work fully with them to ensure it cannot happen again.”

If anyone wishes to discuss this with Rachael Maskell, then she will be willing to raise the impact with Government.