COLCHESTER’S hospital trust has been placed into special measures in the wake of the cancer scandal.

Monitor, the health sector regulator, announced today that following a formal investigation found Colchester Hospitals University NHS Foundation Trust has breached its licence to provide health services.

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The Care Quality Commission (CQC) asked Monitor to investigate after it raised serious concerns over delays in cancer patients’ care.

The CQC ‘s damning report into the trust, published nine days ago, revealed treatment to 22 out of 61 cancer patients may have been delayed, but some patient records had been altered to make it appear treatment had started within the target time.

Update 10.25am


  • Monitor said it ordered the trust to put right the patient quality, safety and governance concerns highlighted by the CQC.
  • An Improvement Director will be appointed by Monitor to ensure the trust turns itself around.
  • A high performing foundation trust will be asked by the regulator to offer support and expertise in delivering improvements to the cancer pathway.
  • The trust will publish and regularly update an action plan to enable the public to monitor the progress it makes and hold it to account.
  • The regulator has also imposed an additional licence condition to make sure the trust has the necessary capability in place to run the trust. If the leadership of the trust fails to act appropriately, this condition allows Monitor to take further action.

Update 10.45am

Dr Gordon Coutts, Trust chief executive, said: “Everyone at the Trust was extremely concerned about the problems identified in the Care Quality Commission report.

"We are truly sorry that in some cases cancer patients, their carers and families have not been given the high quality of care this Trust always aims to provide. 

“We have already taken action in response to the findings of the CQC report and we are continuing to address all of the concerns that were raised.

“Our priority is the safety and well-being of all our patients. The additional advice and support that we will receive as a result of the announcement by Monitor will help us to make the improvements that are needed quickly and effectively. 

"Pairing us with another Trust will also provide the opportunity to have a fresh pair of eyes to look at our services.”

Update 10.55am

UNISON Regional Head of Health, Tracey Lambert, welcomed the decision to put the trust into special measures and pair it with a better performing trust.

She said: “The decision to take Colchester Hospital into special measures is the right one.  The Trust board has lost the confidence of patients and the public in North East Essex and people want to see strong, positive action to improve health care at the hospital.

“UNISON members alerted executive directors at the hospital that they were being bullied into falsifying data relating to the treatment of cancer patients, but their concerns were not dealt with. 

"We know that our members in other departments also believed they would not be listened to if they spoke out about their fears. UNISON repeatedly made this point to the Trust .

“In light of what has happened at Colchester, there is a need for a significant change of leadership and we look forward to working with the new regime.”

Update 11.20am

Witham MP Priti Patel said: "I welcome the appointment of an improvement director to help the trust turn itself around and the placing of the trust into special measures.

"This announcement was always likely following the CQC report and I expect standards to get better with these changes taking effect.”

“Many of my constituents rely on Colchester General Hospital and will be concerned about the Trust’s performance and recent developments. Services must start to improve and patients must be put first.”

Update 12:20pm

Royal College of Nurses regional director Karen Webb said: "Monitor's decision to place Colchester Hospital University NHS Foundation Trust in special measures is the right step to take.

"The RCN has consistently voiced its concerns about patient safety, nurse staffing and cultural issues both to the trust and worked with other stakeholders.

"It is right that the hospital is placed in special measures and support offered to help them turn things around for the benefit of patient care and a safe working environment for the staff providing that care."

Update 1.20pm

Colchester MP Sir Bob Russell said: “This was inevitable in light of what has come to light. The only thing that surprises me is that it was not done a week or so ago.

“This is clearly a worrying time for the general public and staff. I want to stress, again, that we are talking here about the administration of records within the cancer treatment area of the hospital and the possible consequences – this is not a reflection on the rest of the hospital.

“It is important that as much reassurance as possible is given to all who attend the hospital, particularly those under-going treatment for cancer, as well as to their families.

“Also, that I give a general vote of confidence in staff right across the hospital, both medical and support, whose morale may well have been affected by what has been reported.”

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