The letters were sent out to let vulnerable people know how to protect themselves against the pandemic. The NHS has since apologised to families for “any distress that may have been caused” because of the mistake. Some of the relatives were sent letters for people who had died over 14 years previously.
NHS Digital mailed cancer patients who had died between 2006 and 2017.
Many of the patients had been treated with radiotherapy for lung cancer.
They were among 900,000 on a “shielded patient list”.
This list is one that is drawn up to protect those most at risk of contracting the virus.
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But, there was an error in the computer algorithm which caused the letters to be sent out.
And mistakenly it included some patients who were no longer alive.
The mailing process was halted as soon as the error was spotted.
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NHS Digital said:”We would like to say how sorry we are for any distress that may have been caused by the letter you have received.
“This shouldn’t have happened and we, therefore, wish to apologise.”
“We will continue to identify and rectify any issues that may arise as this process continues.”
Last month Wales’ health minister Vaughan Gething apologised after 13,000 letters for people most vulnerable to coronavirus were mistakenly sent to the wrong addresses.
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More than 80,000 people are meant to get a “shielding letter”.
The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) said it was ooking into the data breach.
This was after the Welsh NHS referred itself to the regulator.
Plaid Cymru said it was a “potentially disastrous mistake”.
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