Colchester Hospital has been put under a police investigation after claims were made that staff falsified cancer records to meet the hospital targets, whilst putting patients at risk.
It was a surprise visit to the Hospital by the Care Quality Commission that uncovered this alleged practice. Inspectors sent to the hospital discovered that many cancer patients at the Hospital were not receiving treatment within the required period of 62 days and in the case of 3 patients, the delays for treatment exceeded 100 days.
However, records at the General Hospital in Essex appear to have been altered in order to hide these failings and staff at the Hospital told inspectors they were feeling “pressured or bullied” into altering the data.
Professor Sir Michael Richards, Chief Inspector of Hospitals, has recommended that special measures be implemented into the hospital.
Speaking on the subject today, he said: “If you are diagnosed with cancer – you are entitled to think that your hospital will do all they can to ensure you get treatment you need as soon as possible. It is shocking to think that people’s lives may have been put at risk for the sake of the waiting time figures.”
“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.”
Inspectors from the Care Quality Commission paid two visits to the Colchester Hospital University NHS Foundation, in August and September 2013.
Patient records from the hospital were checked against the National System for cancer waiting times and several “discrepancies” were found.
A total of 61 care records were examined by the inspectors, and 22 cases showed that patients “had been placed at risk of receiving care that was unsafe or not effective.”
The Care Quality Commission stated that the appointment dates of those 22 patients being treated for cancer were changed as they had not been treated within the Government’s time limits. The inspectors also believed that patients with altered dates were at a higher risk because any follow-up appointments for treatment would have been arranged using incorrect dates.
In 2012, an internal investigation conducted by the Trust discovered concerns about the hospital’s treatment, but the allegations were not looked into.
A spokesman from Essex Police, who is currently handling the investigation, said: “Essex Police has been contacted by the Care Quality Commission and is currently reviewing information it has provided to establish whether a criminal investigation is necessary.”
Chief Executive of the Trust, Dr Gordon Coutts, commented on the subject of whether the Trust should be put in special measures: “We are very concerned by the findings of the Care Quality Commission report. 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.”
“We sincerely apologise to those who we have let down and for the worry, distress and concern that the publication of today’s report is likely to raise.”
If you have been the victim of Clinical Negligence and have suffered as a result, you may be entitled to financial compensation. Call Express Solicitors on 0800 1456 4007 for free legal advice and help with making your claim for compensation.