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Colchester: Hospital Trust cancer services found ‘safe’ after damning CQC inspections in November

14:51 17 July 2014

Colchester Hospital.

Colchester Hospital.

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NHS England has found five cancer pathways at Colchester Hospital University NHS Foundation Trust safe after previous inspections raised concerns about them.

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In December of last year six of the 17 cancer services offered at the trust weren’t considered safe by NHS England. These were brain and central nervous system, cancer of unknown primary origin, radiology, sarcoma, skin, and urology.

The examination of cancer services was prompted by the publication of a CQC inspection report which found staff felt they had been “pressured or bullied” to falsify data relating to patients.

The report said “inaccuracies” were found with waiting time data relating to cancer treatment at Colchester General Hospital, possibly putting the lives of patients at risk.

Since the initial examination in December all six cancer services except for skin cancer have been revisited and the health body said it was “currently assured of the safety of the cancer service provided”. Skin cancer services were said to have “made progress”.

The services will now be subject to routine monitoring.

Dr Lucy Moore, Chief Executive of Colchester Hospital Trust, said the report was proof of the significant progress the Trust had made since a Care Quality Commission (CQC) cancer services inspection was published in November last year.

“I want to thank NHS England for their report which I hope will reassure patients and the public that all of our cancers services are now safe,” she said.

“We developed a comprehensive action plan to improve cancer services following the CQC report and NHS England’s first report and we now have independent evidence of the progress that has been made.

“Our action plan was approved by the regulator Monitor and we have also had expert support from the Royal Marsden, which we welcome and are finding extremely helpful. We have invested significantly in cancer services.

“However, we are not complacent and today’s report includes some extremely helpful recommendations for us to make further progress towards achieving our goal of having cancer services that are second to none.”

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The leadership of the main healthcare provider in Colchester and north east Essex has been branded ‘inadequate’ in a report from the Care Quality Commission.

The CQC report rated the trust in general as ‘requires improvement’, with effectiveness and caring receiving ‘good’ ratings and safety and responsiveness ‘requires improvement’.

The report said leaders faced a challenge around “succession planning, stability and the perception of leadership commitment across the organisation.”

After the inspection had taken place the CQC said they had been contacted by a whistleblower of further allegations of manipulation of waiting lists in a service within the trust.

The trust were also criticised for failing to notify the CQC of the findings of an external review.

The report said nurse staffing levels were lower than they should be, particularly in elderly medical wards, and equipment and medicine checks were not carried out to a consistently high standard across the organisation.

At Colchester General Hospital a separate report rated all but two wards as ‘requires improvement’. Surgery and critical care were rated as ‘good’.

At Essex County Hospital the surgery ward was rated ‘good’ while outpatients was rated ‘requires improvement’.

Dr Lucy Moore, chief executive of the trust, welcomed the reports.

“We are not yet in a position where we can truthfully say that all the difficulties are behind us,” she said.

“We face more challenges in the months ahead but we are moving forward and I am determined that we will regain the trust of our patients and our local communities.”

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