Colchester Hospital: Police launch formal inquiry

Andrew Pike
Image caption Andrew Pike of NHS England is the chairman of the incident management team at the hospital

A hospital placed in special measures over "inaccuracies" in its cancer waiting times will be subject to a criminal investigation.

The Care Quality Commission (CQC) said earlier this month Colchester Hospital staff were "pressured or bullied" to change data.

Essex Police announced on Tuesday it would be investigating.

NHS England also revealed details of a review of all 14 types of cancer pathways at the hospital.

The incident management team includes 18 clinicians and a senior police officer, NHS England said.

Andrew Pike of NHS England said: "It's the duty of everyone in the NHS to ensure that we provide safe services."

'Services safe'

He added: "If we do identify that we need to look at individual notes and deal with individual patients, then they and their family members will be fully involved in any work. There will be no plan to keep this secret at all.

"They must be aware that there has been a problem and be involved.

"Common sense would say once we've got to the bottom of the cancer problem, it would be very sensible to make sure there has been no problems in other areas."

Regulator Monitor placed Colchester Hospital University NHS Foundation Trust into special measures following the CQC report published in early November.

The inspector said patients' lives may have been put at risk.

Essex Police had looked at the data issue and on Tuesday said it warranted a full criminal investigation.

Cancer pathways

The incident management team involves Monitor, the CQC, Essex Police, and the North East Essex Clinical Commissioning Group.

It is initially investigating all 14 cancer pathways, with each examined by a cancer specialist, GP, senior nurse, cancer manager and other support staff, and will remain in place "until all aspects of the incident are resolved and ongoing action plans agreed".

The teams will look at the quality of clinical services, waiting time information, treatment outcomes and the overall organisation of each cancer specialty.

If a pathway review team has concerns, it will identify immediate remedial action to make the services safe and indicate if further reform or improvements to services are required, NHS England said.

A final report is due to be completed and published by NHS England by mid-December.

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