Womens lives may have been cut short by a major IT error which meant 450,000 patients in England missed crucial breast cancer screenings, the health secretary, Jeremy Hunt, has said.As many as 270 women may have died because of the 2009 computer error, he said. Families now face the distressing possibility that loved ones who have recently died from breast cancer may have missed opportunities for early diagnosis. Women receiving breast cancer treatment, including those with a terminal diagnosis, may also receive letters informing them of missed screenings in the coming months. The government has ordered an independent inquiry into the scandal, which Public Health England (PHE) only unearthed in January after almost a decade of errors, Hunt said.

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