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Colchester Hospital University Foundation Trust

Colchester cancer services deemed 'unsafe' by NHS England

Colchester Hospital University Trust’s cancer services, which are also being investigated by the police, have been found “unsafe” in five areas, NHS England has announced.

NHS England carried out an immediate review into the quality and safety of cancer services at the trust, after a CQC inspection found cancer patients’ records had been changed to fit with waiting time targets.

It found cancer services were unsafe in five areas: urology, cancer of unknown primary origin, sarcoma, brain and central nervous system and skin cancers.

Publication of the report follows the resignation on Wednesday of trust chief executive Gordon Coutts.

The NHS England report said it identified “a number of serious failings in cancer services organisation management”.

These include “failures of basic governance processes, unsafe information and records systems, poorly documented clinical pathways, a lack of training for key staff, inadequate or unsustainable levels of staffing in key services, poor handover of patients between cancer teams and with other hospitals”.

The report added: “More worryingly the immediate review confirmed the CQC finding that some trust staff had a lack of confidence that concerns would be listened to.”

NHS England will now review every cancer case at the trust since April 2010.

Dr Sean MacDonnell, the trust’s medical director, said: “We accept in full the report and its recommendations.”

He added: “The report identifies a number of problems in our cancer services which are extremely concerning but which we have started to address.

“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.”

Police are also investigating whether staff were pressurised into changing patients’ records. Monitor is also conducting a formal review of the trust’s governance.


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