Children's Ward security scare probe

AN INVESTIGATION has been launched after an intruder gained access to the children's ward at Colchester General Hospital and touched some of youngsters.

AN INVESTIGATION has been launched after an intruder gained access to the children's ward at Colchester General Hospital and touched some of youngsters.

The former psychiatric patient managed to get through the tight security procedures before he approached a number of children putting his hands on their heads as they lay in bed.

It is thought he believed he had the power to heal them through a blessing and no indecent acts took place.

However, questions are now being asked about the security at the hospital and how the man gained access to the ward at about 11am on Sunday.


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Yesterday Essex Rivers Healthcare Trust, which runs the hospital, stated it could not guarantee that further such incidents would be prevented.

Wards including the special care baby unit and the children's ward have a buzzer system allowing staff to check visitors before allowing access.

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The intruder managed to get past a cleaner, although a hospital spokesman said it was not clear if he tricked his way in or whether he barged past the person.

The alarm was only raised when parents became concerned about the man's strange activities and police were called.

He left the ward but was later detained by police who used CCTV footage to identify him near to the hospital and referred him for treatment at the Lakes unit, which provides mental health treatment.

Detective Sergeant Roger Napier, of Colchester Police, said: "A report has been submitted but is unlikely there will be a prosecution."

A hospital spokesman said staff did all they could do minimise risk to patients.

He said: "This is being taken very seriously by the trust and there is an internal investigation as clearly there was something wrong.

"It will also be used as an opportunity to remind all the staff of the strict procedures of allowing people onto the secure ward areas.

"We must not forget the children's ward is there to provide health care and it is not a fortress.

"It would be wrong of me to say we can wholeheartedly guarantee the security of the patients at all times on those wards.

"We apologise to any parents who were caused anxiety by what happened and this is something we are taking very, very seriously."

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