Concerns that a number of women’s cancer diagnoses at the Royal Lancaster Infirmary might have been delayed prompted a whistleblower to come forward.
NHS England is carrying out a preliminary investigation on the breast screening programme at the unit which will be chaired by Carole Panteli, director of nursing and quality for the Lancashire Area Team.
She said: “A cross-organisational investigation team has been set up and a review is underway.
“We expect a report to be produced by early September and are working closely with the trust and other partner organisations.
“We are committed to ensuring the very best outcomes for women in our care.”
Medical Director of University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Foundation Trust, George Nasmyth, said: “A member of staff came to us with a concern that a number of women’s cancer diagnoses might have been delayed, so we took immediate action.
“We have reviewed the evidence internally, and invited a regional team of expert clinicians appointed
by Public Health England to further assess the service.
“So far, we have had two reviews but we have no evidence to show conclusively that anyone’s breast cancer diagnosis has been delayed.
“We are now supporting NHS England as they look again at our services, and it is absolutely right that no stone should be left unturned whenever a staff member raises any kind of alarm.
“We haven’t publicised our investigations so far because the last thing we want to do is cause extra worry among women who already have a cancer diagnosis, or put women off screening, when we have no conclusive evidence of a problem.
“This is in line with national guidance. If clear evidence of a problem is identified, we will of course be completely open about it.
“Currently the NHS Breast Screening Programme diagnoses 10,000 breast cancers annually and saves an estimated 1400 lives each year in England.”