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Police investigate cancer care unit at NHS hospital

Published on 06/11/2013

A cancer unit at Colchester General Hospital is under police investigation after staff claim they were being ‘”pressured or bullied” to alter patient data.

Some patients were delayed treatment for 100 days

The Care Quality Commission (CQC) found “inaccuracies” in waiting time data for cancer patients at Colchester hospital. Essex police are investigating to see if a “criminal investigation” is required.

The hospital inspector said patients’ lives had been put at risk and some cancer patients did not receive their treatment within the required 62 days and in three extreme cases delays extended to over 100 days.

The inspectors were told by staff that they were “pressured or bullied” to falsify data in order to give the impression that patients were being treated within the national guidelines. These claims were reported to the police “due to the serious failings identified”.

Chief executive at Colchester Hospital University NHS Foundation Trust, Dr Gordon Coutts, said: “We are truly sorry that in some cases cancer patients, their carers and families have not always received the high quality of care that they should have expected from our trust."

NHS England has vowed to lead an incident management team of cancer specialists to provide better safety of cancer patients at the hospital.

Inspectors visited the trust in August and September this year after complaints were made about cancer treatment waiting times. Following this the CQC found 22 cases where patients had experience delays, some of which may have been life-threatening.

Professor Sir Mike Richards, chief inspector of hospitals, advised that the trust be placed in special measures which could mean a new management team is introduce or another trust put in charge.

Sir 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.”

Private health insurance can let you chose which hospital you receive your treatment at – including cancer care.

© ActiveQuote Ltd. 2013

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