BBC Report on Findings at Colchester General Hospital

The BBC reported yesterday findings of an inspection at Colchester General Hospital that showed staff falsified patient data. The falsified data identified appeared to be in connection with waiting times relating to cancer treatment. About 6,000 people a year receive cancer treatment at the Colchester Hospital University NHS Foundation Trust. The inspection found that a number of cancer patients may have suffered undue delays in treatment and that there were inaccuracies with waiting time data relating to cancer treatment.

The inaccuracies were found by the Care Quality Commission (the independent regulator of all health and social care services in England). The Care Quality Commission is in place to make sure hospitals, care homes, dental and GP surgeries, and all other care services in England provide people with safe, effective, compassionate and high-quality care, and to encourage them to make improvements. They do this by inspecting services and publishing the results on their website to help patients make better decisions about the care they receive. The Care Quality Commission carried out an unannounced inspection at Colchester General Hospital in August and September after receiving concerning information about the treatment of patients from the end of 2011. Their report on Colchester General Hospital was published yesterday.

According to the BBC report MP Sir Bob Russell stated that he was "appalled" at the findings and that what has happened "cannot be justified under any circumstances". The hospital trust has apologised to patients who did not receive "the high quality of care" expected. The BBC also reports that the Care Quality Commission have advised that staff told inspectors they were "pressured or bullied" to change data relating to patients and their treatment to make it seem people were being treated in line with national guidelines. When asked by BBC Essex if he would resign, the hospital's chief executive Dr Gordon Coutts apparently said: "My job is to keep improving this hospital, and I intend to continue to do so."

The Care Quality Commission have asked the trust to implement a look-back review to establish whether there is a risk that other patients did not receive treatment in accordance with national standards in recent years. They have also informed Essex Police who are reportedly "reviewing information" to "establish whether a criminal investigation is necessary".

The hospital has set up a helpline for any patients or families who have concerns so if you have been affected by this you can call the helpline on 0800 028 2026.