HOSPITALS across Dorset failed to provide any reassurances to the public following reports 450,000 women were not invited for routine breast cancer screening across England.

Heath Secretary Jeremy Hunt told MPs the “current best estimate” was that “there may be between 135 and 270 women who had their lives shortened as a result”.

This response followed reports that many women aged between 68 and 71 had failed to get invitations for screening appointments.

An independent review is set to be launched into the error, which dates back to 2009 and was discovered in January.

Despite an apology from Public Health England, Poole Hospital, which runs the routine breast screening service for Dorset, declined to comment on the situation and referred the Daily Echo to the national Government agency.

Royal Bournemouth Hospital referred enquiries to Poole Hospital.

The Trust, which manages the Longfleet Road hospital, would not even provide an assurance to residents regarding the screening situation.

Martyn Webster, Healthwatch Dorset manager, said: “It’s shocking to learn that so many women didn’t receive an invitation for breast screening over the past nine years.

“People will understandably be concerned and anxious. The key thing now is that the NHS identifies those affected, moves swiftly to contact them and get people screened as soon as possible.

“It’s critical that lessons are learned and that steps are taken to ensure this situation never happens again.”

Public Health England was unable to field localised questions on the impact of the women who missed out on check ups, which occurred due to a “complex IT problem”.

Dr Jenny Harries, Public Health England deputy medical director, said: “On behalf of NHS breast screening services, we apologise to the women affected and we are writing to them to offer a catch-up screening appointment.

“They and their families’ wellbeing is our top priority and we are very sorry for these faults in the system.”

“A complex IT problem with the breast screening invitation system has led to some women not being invited for their final screen between their 68th and 71st birthdays.

“We have carried out urgent work to identify the problem and have fixed it.

“Additional failsafe systems have been introduced to ensure the problem does not reoccur.”

In response to the error, Public Health England said up to 309,000 women aged between 70 and 79 will be offered the opportunity for a catch-up NHS breast screening test this year. The fault has been identified and corrected.