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Clinical Negligence Associate debates special measures at Colchester Hospital

Clinical Negligence Associate Christian Beadell explains how it seems rather strange for a Hospital to be placed in special measures when this is a step that we commonly associated with our schools..........

However, that is what has happened at Colchester Hospital in light of alleged “data irregularities” identified by the Care Quality Commission.

The call for special measures was first made on 5th November and swift action has been taken. However for cancer patients in the hospital this will be a worrying time and arguably it has been too late coming for the patients who have not received vital treatment. What action is being taken to improve patient services and how long will it take to implement?

22 out of 61 cases reviewed showed delays in providing treatment. That’s over a third of all patients. If the Cancer service is failing to hit their waiting time targets, this is likely to be deep seated.


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Oncology services throughout the country are stretched due to a lack of front line staff but it appears from the CQC that staff had been placed under pressure to adjust their records to show compliance with targets. This smacks of pressure from management but a lack of funding to ensure the service runs effectively.

The CQC identified that even though there had been an internal investigation in 2012 which identified concerns, the Trust failed to investigate the allegations thoroughly or follow up with the patients who were affected. This is not the first time that I have heard such reports.

Therefore it would seem that warnings have not been heeded. Special measures may be an effective way of turning around performance in a school that is failing but for a hospital it is a somewhat blunt tool. There has to be a far stronger focus on pre-emptory action if patient safety is not going to be compromised.