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Whistleblowers highlight Trust’s bullying tactics

The Chief Inspector of Hospitals, Professor Sir Mike Richards, has recommended Colchester Hospital University NHS Foundation Trust should be placed into special measures following serious concerns highlighted during a Care Quality Commission (CQC) inspection regarding the quality of some services for cancer patients at the Trust.

The concerns and the recommendation have been referred to Monitor, the sector regulator for health services in England. CQC has also referred its findings to Essex Police, who are looking into whether a criminal investigation is needed at the Trust after staff said they were being "pressured or bullied" to falsify data relating to cancer patients.

CQC inspectors found a number of cancer patients may have suffered undue delays in treatment and there were inaccuracies with waiting time data relating to cancer treatment.
In its inspection report, CQC says some hospital staff reported they were pressured to change data relating to patients and their treatment to make it seem people were being treated in line with national guidelines. As a result some patients may not have had the treatment they needed in time.

Staff also reported having raised concerns about this but that this information was not acted upon by the Trust.

Professor Sir Mike Richards said:  “It is shocking to think that people's lives may have been put at risk for the sake of the waiting time figures.

"Every year around six thousand people go to Colchester Hospital University NHS Foundation Trust to be treated for cancer. It is essential that people in north Essex can have confidence in their hospital.

"Clearly this report raises questions over the safety and effectiveness of these services. But it also raises questions at the highest level. We have found that the concerns raised by staff in relation to changes made to people’s cancer pathways were not appropriately managed or investigated by senior staff of the Trust, which is why I am now recommending that this trust should be placed in special measures.”

He added: “We have only been able to consider taking action because of the hospital staff who came forward to raise their concerns in the first place. It’s thanks to them that we can ensure that the service is better in future.”