Man holds Jeremy Hunt responsible for parents' deaths following breast screening scandal

  • Video report by ITV News Political Correspondent Emily Morgan

A man has told ITV News he holds Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt personally responsible for the death of his parents after the revelations over the breast screening scandal.

Lee Towsey believes his mother Rita was among the women affected by the IT failure and said his father Keith was also an indirect victim.

He said Mr Hunt has handled the situation "appallingly" and wants to know whether the health secretary is "going to keep his job."

Mr Towsey lost his mother to breast cancer when she was 70 but never believed her death could have been avoided until he "put two and two together" after hearing the health secretary's announcement in the House of Commons.

Mr Hunt revealed to Parliament on Wednesday a "computer algorithm failure" meant many women between 2009 and 2018 had not been sent their final breast screening invitation.

Mr Towsey said: "As I was watching the statement I suddenly thought 'my mum fits into the year they're talking about on there, could she be one of the 270 people that they're claiming might have died?'"

The nightclub promoter added: "I had never put two and two together until I saw that, then I realised, 'well actually, if she'd have had pre-treatment then maybe she'd still be with us today.'"

Mr Towsey phoned the helpline and learned the awful news his mother was "probably" one of those who had their life shortened over the scandal.

He now feels his dad's death could have been avoided too.

"I didn't only lose my mum, I lost my dad as well because my dad died two years afterwards of a broken heart," he told ITV News.

"He couldn't bare being without my mum, he never went back into the front room ever again and he died two years later."

The couple died within two years of each other. Credit: ITV News

Mr Towsey said his father pleaded with his sister just before he died for her to get a mammogram, because "your mum didn't have it done, she never got the chance".

The health secretary said up to 450,000 women may have missed out on their final routine breast screening because of the IT error.

But Mr Towsey does not believe computers are to blame.

"People must have realised there were women of a certain age that weren't coming through the door," he said.

"Is it a computer error?" he asked. "Well who wrote the computer? Which company made that decision to leave that off and have they paid anything?

"Are they going to pay the price for doing this or is Jeremy Hunt, the health secretary, is he going to pay the price for it?"