Colchester Hospital NHS Foundation Trust has now been put in the special measures category as a result of last week’s cancer records scandal. Colchester Hospital is currently in the centre of a police investigation over claims that staff changed data relating to cancer treatment waiting times. According to a report from the Care Quality Commission, patients of the hospital’s oncology department suffered “undue delays” in their treatment and inspectors found there were “inaccuracies” with information that had been recorded in relation to these delays. To make matters worse, staff at the hospital reported that they were “pressured or bullied” into changing data relating to patients’ treatment to bring figures in line with national guidelines. As a result it appears that a number of patients may not have received the cancer treatment they required within a reasonable time.

Monitor, the sector regulator for health services in England, found the Trust had breached its licence to provide health services and this is why it has now put the Trust in special measures. Colchester will join eleven other Trust’s already on the special measures scheme. These Trusts fell foul of a review conducted by Sir Bruce Keogh, Medical Director of the NHS, earlier this year, which found that none of the hospitals investigated were providing “consistently high quality care to patients” and were guilty of ‘major failings’. As a result of these major failings the eleven hospitals were required to implement the recommendations of the Keogh review with the help of external teams sent in to each hospital, and their progress would be tracked and made available to the public.ColchesterHospitalwill now be subject to the same high level of scrutiny in order to “put right the patient quality, safety and governance concerns highlighted by the CQC”. A top healthcare director will be sent into work with the Trust to ensure it turns itself around and the hospital will also be matched with a high-performing trust which can offer support and expertise

Naomi Eady, Clinical Negligence Solicitor, says ‘when the news of the cancer scandal broke it seemed a foregone conclusion that Colchester General would be put into special measures. What remains to be seen is if and how being part of this improvement scheme will raise the standard of healthcare provided by the Trust. Also, there are still many patients waiting to find out if the records tampering has had a negative impact on their cancer treatment.’

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