Essex: Scandal-hit Colchester Hospital’s leadership will be reviewed as the trust is placed into special measures

Colchester Hospital.

Colchester Hospital. - Credit: Archant

The leadership of scandal-hit Colchester Hospital will be reviewed, it emerged today, as the trust was placed into special measures by the health sector regulator, Monitor.

It comes just weeks after a CQC report found that staff working at the Essex site were being “pressured or bullied” into changing data relating to cancer patients and treatment, which Essex Police was also informed about.

Officials from Monitor have say they have stepped in so the health and wellbeing of patients using the cancer pathway at the hospital is “assured”.

Adam Cayley, regional director for the watchdog, said:“The trust has been given an explicit set of actions to improve the service it offers patients. We will be monitoring progress closely and we will not hesitate to take further regulatory action if required.

“The leadership of the trust will be reviewed as part of our scrutiny of the trust’s governance arrangements and, if necessary, further regulatory action will be taken.”

Chief Inspector of Hospitals, Sir Mike Richards, added: “We welcome Monitor’s decision to accept my recommendation to place Colchester Hospital University NHS Foundation Trust in special measures.

“I am pleased that information from CQC’s inspection has resulted in the action that is being taken by Monitor to improve services at the trust. CQC will continue to monitor the trust in line with its regulatory responsibilities and this will include further inspections.”

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Colchester MP, Sir Bob Russell, said the decision was “inevitable” but admitted he was surprised it did not happen sooner.

He said: “This is clearly a worrying time for the general public and staff. I want to stress, again, that we are talking here about the administration of records within the cancer treatment area of the hospital and the possible consequences – this is not a reflection on the rest of the hospital.

“It is important that as much reassurance as possible is given to all who attend the hospital, particularly those under-going treatment for cancer, as well as to their families.

“Also, that I give a general vote of confidence in staff right across the hospital, both medical and support, whose morale may well have been affected by what has been reported.”

Priti Patel, MP for Witham, added: “I welcome the appointment of an improvement director to help the Trust turn itself around and the placing of the Trust into special measures. This announcement was always likely following the CQC report and I expect standards to get better with these changes taking effect.”

“Many of my constituents rely on Colchester General Hospital and will be concerned about the Trust’s performance and recent developments. Services must start to improve and patients must be put first.”

Bosses at the hospital have already admitted the problems highlighted by the CQC report has “extremely concerned” staff and that they would do everything they could to improve.

Chief executive, Dr Gordon Coutts, said action has already taken place in light of the report, which has included contacting the patients concerned and meeting them, bringing in external experts and agreeing a review of its cancer pathways.

He added: “We are truly sorry that in some cases cancer patients, their carers and families have not been given the high quality of care this Trust always aims to provide.

“We have already taken action in response to the findings of the CQC report and we are continuing to address all of the concerns that were raised.

“Our priority is the safety and well-being of all our patients.

“The additional advice and support that we will receive as a result of the announcement by Monitor will help us to make the improvements that are needed quickly and effectively.

“Pairing us with another Trust will also provide the opportunity to have a fresh pair of eyes to look at our services.”