MORE than 3,000 women in Dorset have been put at risk by the breast cancer screening scandal, government figures show.

Data published by Public Health England shows that 3,316 women in Dorset have been affected by the IT error dating back to 2009.

More than half (1,933) are from the east of the county with 348 living in the north, 425 in the south and 610 in the west.

The error was first made public by the then health secretary, Jeremy Hunt, in May who revealed that the “serious failing” had resulted in hundreds of thousands of women not being invited to their final breast screening between 2009 and May 2018.

The figure was revised down to 174,000, of whom 130,000 were still alive, by Mr Hunt last month.

Fewer than 75 were deemed to have had their lives shortened as a result of not being contacted.

In a statement he 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 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.”

Additional appointments have been made available for affected women with the government aiming to have everyone seen by the end of October.

Eluned Hughes, head of public health and information at Breast Cancer Now, said: “We now urgently need the government to deliver on its promise to expand the workforce to cope with this increased demand while maintaining routine screening.

“For the women affected who developed breast cancers that could have been picked up earlier, this decade-long error remains a devastating failure.”