Trust's response to CQC report

5 November 2013

Dr Sean MacDonnell, Medical Director of Colchester Hospital University NHS Foundation Trust, said:

"On behalf of the Trust, I apologise to the patients, relatives and carers who we have let down. We are very sorry for the worry, distress and concerns that have been raised by the publication of the CQC report into our cancer services.

"Our priority is to focus on the safety and welfare of all cancer patients.

"We urge all patients currently using our cancer services to keep their appointments. The issues in the CQC report are primarily about delays to treatment and it is vitally important that patients continue with their treatment.

"We are already working with the CQC, Monitor, local GPs, North East Essex Clinical Commissioning Group [CCG] and NHS England, as well as independent, external experts, to make sure that all of our cancer services are consistently safe and comply with national standards. With their help, we have already implemented a number of improvements.

"Both myself and staff throughout the Trust are shocked and dismayed by the concerns raised in the CQC report. Patients and the public can be reassured that we are taking the findings extremely seriously and are determined to get to the bottom of the issues and sort them out.

"We are learning from this inspection, we are changing the way we do things where necessary and we are doing this quickly so that we are certain that all cancer patients using our hospitals receive the best possible care.

"The CQC has given the Trust the names of 30 patients about who they have identified concerns. We have already contacted them or their families to offer face-to-face meetings because we want to ensure these individuals are reviewed swiftly to ensure their safety and welfare. We will offer them all the support that they need at this difficult time.

"It is also extremely disheartening for us to learn that it appears from the CQC inspection report that some inappropriate changes were made to cancer waiting time data.

"It is essential that patients and staff can trust all of our employees to do the right thing. It seems that this has not always been the case.

"If there is any evidence that any of our staff have inappropriately adjusted and reported cancer figures, the Trust will take the strongest possible action against them. Equally, the Trust will take action against any employee involved in bullying, harassment or coercion of its staff by other staff, if this appears to have happened in relation to changes made to data.

"As soon as the CQC inspection team first visited Colchester General Hospital in August, we recognised there were issues that the Trust needed to resolve. We have already made a number of improvements and we will continue to make further changes.

"From the outset, we have co-operated fully with the CQC and partner organisations, such as North East Essex CCG and NHS England and will continue to do so. We are very disappointed by these findings and are determined to work with our partners to ensure this situation never arises again and that lessons we learn are shared across all services."

* Cancer patients (past and present), their relatives and members of the public who have any concerns as a result of the CQC report can contact a special helpline that the Trust has set up. Tel 0800 028 2026. It will be staffed 8am-8pm, seven days a week.

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Read in full our response to the special measures recommendation.