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Nursing director relieved after police end trust investigation

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A nursing director in Essex has welcomed a police announcement that no offence was committed at her trust regarding claims that cancer records were manipulated to meet targets.

Colchester Hospital University NHS Foundation Trust has been under investigation since November 2013 over claims that data was changed to meet national guidelines.

At the same time, it was placed in the special measures support regime for failing trusts by the regulator Monitor.

But Essex Police said yesterday that it had found “no criminal offences” had been committed in relation to the allegations that data had been manipulated on waiting lists for cancer patients.

The announcement was welcomed by Dr Barbara Stuttle, the trust’s director of nursing and quality.

She said: “It is another important step towards rebuilding public trust and confidence in the cancer services we provide.

“The police investigation has been hanging over the trust for almost two years so it is pleasing that, at long last, we can finally draw a line under it,” she said.

“It is pleasing that, at long last, we can finally draw a line under it”

Barbara Stuttle

She added: “After the CQC published its report on 5 November 2013, we worked closely with the Royal Marsden to develop and deliver a comprehensive cancer improvement plan.”

The announcement comes eight months after two separate reports, published in December last year, also cleared the trust of systemic manipulation of cancer waiting lists.

One report, based on an independent investigation commissioned by Monitor, found no evidence that staff were instructed to manipulate cancer data.

The second, a retrospective review of 822 cancer patients treated at the trust from 2010-14, concluded there was no evidence of systematic data manipulation.

Dr Stuttle said the trust had always been determined to get to the bottom of all of the concerns and issues raised by the Care Quality Commission in its inspection report.

The trust also said it had made significant improvements in its data collection and handling for cancer patients.

“We have concluded that no criminal offences have been committed”

Tracy Hawkings

For example, it cited the replacement of the previous regime of multiple databases for cancer patients with the highly regarded Somerset Cancer Waiting Times management system.

In a statement, Essex Police chief superintendent Tracy Hawkings said: “The investigation has looked at whether or not any criminal offences were committed and has included interviews with staff and an assessment by independent experts of the medical records of a number of patients.

Barbara Stuttle

Barbara Stuttle

“Throughout the investigation we have worked with NHS England, the NHS trust and other health organisations to ensure we had access to all the information, reports and medical data that could be provided,” she said.

“We have concluded that no criminal offences have been committed and there is no evidence to support any criminal charges against either any individuals or the hospital trust. The police investigation has now concluded,” she added.

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Readers' comments (2)

  • so why were the police involved?

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  • Trust is an important value in the nursing profession. People believe in the expertise of nurses and other medical professionals that is why they do not doubt going to the hospitals. When nurses break this trust people will start to question the credibility of the hospital or facility and their services. This must be medicated immediately.

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