April 21 2014 Latest news:
Friday, December 20, 2013
Thousands of patient records could be investigated in the next stage of a review into the quality and safety of cancer services at Colchester General Hospital.
The process will start in the New Year and follows on from a report into the current state of the hospital’s cancer services, which was published yesterday.
The team leading the investigation said they intended to start looking at past patient records going as far back as April 2010 – a period that potentially takes in paperwork relating to 47,000 people.
According to Andrew Pike, NHS director of the Essex area team, the Retrospective Review will initially look at cases where the treatment of patients may have stopped without proper medical advice.
It will also examine patient records where concerns have been raised through the helpline and where treatments have been delayed beyond national cancer waiting times.
Mr Pike said the records of 910 patients have already been reviewed in the run-up to yesterday’s report and that problems had been identified with 13 people, who had been recalled for further consultation.
Yesterday’s report was the result of a number of fact-finding visits to the hospital over the past month by an incident management team made up of experts from a range of organisations including NHS England, North East Essex Clinical Commissioning Group (NEECCG) and health watchdog Monitor. It was designed to look at the quality of treatment of the 17 distinct cancer types treated at the hospital and was in response to concerns raised by a Care Quality Commission report at the start of November.
“This report is not about naming and shaming individuals. It’s about answering the question: ‘Are cancer services safe?’ and identifying the immediate next steps the trust must take,” said Mr Pike, who led a panel briefing on the report to the press yesterday morning.
“We had been conditioned by the earlier CQC report to expect something not too clever. However, on the positive side we have produced a clear report to help the trust get to grips with its cancer services.”
Also on the panel, Shane Gordon, chief officer of NEECCG, said he was satisfied that the work already done has brought cancer services at the hospital “up to an adequate standard”, but that he was determined to achieve “excellence”.
He said some of the improvements required - such as recruiting support staff - had already been put in place. Other improvements, such as updating IT and patient record systems, would take several months.
He added that he would be overseeing weekly visits to the hospital to check on how improvements were progressing and said the Colchester Hospital NHS Trust, which manages the hospital, had responded “extremely robustly” to the recommendations in the report.
Medical director at the trust Dr Sean MacDonnell said the publication would help shape a cancer action plan to improve services.
He said: “The report identifies a number of problems in our cancer services which are extremely concerning but which we have started to address.
“However, it is important to stress to current cancer patients and their families that the main issues are with our processes – which we are determined to put right – and the report does not question the quality of chemotherapy, radiotherapy or surgery for patients with cancer.
“There is much work to do but the report also points to areas of good practice, including dedicated clinical staff and teams that work very well together.”
n Patients and their families who have concerns have been asked to contact a help line on 0800 028 2026.