Colchester: Investigation begins into cancer patient waiting times concerns

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- Credit: Peter Lawson/Eastnews

An independent investigation has begun into how Colchester Hospital University NHS Foundation Trust responded to concerns about cancer waiting times.

The investigation, which began on Friday, is being led jointly by Professor Pat Troop, a former deputy Chief Medical Officer of England, and Carole Taylor-Brown, former chief executive of NHS Suffolk and former chair of the Anglia Cancer Network.

The independent investigation has been commissioned at the request of Trust chair Dr Sally Irvine by Sir John Ashworth, the senior independent director among the Trust’s non-executive directors, following publication of a Care Quality Commission (CQC) inspection report in response to concerns the CQC received regarding cancer waiting times.

Health Services regulator, Monitor, has agreed the terms of reference of the review and will receive a copy of the report.

The investigation report will be sent to Dr Irvine who, with the non-executive directors and after taking advice from Monitor, will consider what action needs to be taken and what lessons are to be learned. The investigation will be completed as quickly as possible but will need to take account of inquiries by Essex police.

Dr Irvine said: “The Board is deeply shocked and concerned at the failings revealed in the CQC report, and is very sorry indeed for the anxiety and distress this will have caused patients, their families and the many staff who provide excellent care day in and day out. It raises questions at the highest executive and management levels of the Trust.

She added:“The investigation has been asked to get to the bottom of who knew what, when they knew it and what they did – or did not do – about it.

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“This will be a far-reaching and detailed investigation but because of the urgency of the situation, I have asked for it to be completed as soon as possible.”

The investigation will seek to establish whether or not there may be a case to answer under the Trust’s disciplinary and performance management policy and procedure, and consider the effectiveness of the Trust’s whistleblowing policy. It will also look at how the Board’s assurance processes could be strengthened and consider what lessons can be learnt from the handling of the concerns raised, and what could be done differently in the future.