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Care Quality Commission takes urgent enforcement action at Colchester Hospital University NHS Foundation Trust

30 January 2015
Colchester General Hospital
  • Media

The Chief Inspector of Hospitals has used CQC's urgent enforcement powers to protect people using services at Colchester Hospital University NHS Foundation Trust.

Professor Sir Mike Richards took action with regard to services at Colchester General Hospital following an inspection carried out on 12 and 27 November and 23 December last year. The report relating to the inspection has been published today (Friday, 30 January).

The inspection took place in response to information of concern around performance and care received by patients in the accident and emergency department and the emergency assessment unit.

Inspectors found the hospital needed to make changes and both the hospital's Urgent and Emergency Services and Medical Care have been rated as 'Inadequate' overall. Colchester General Hospital is also rated as 'Inadequate' overall.

A full copy of the report on the hospital can be found at:

The Care Quality Commission's inspection found staff were exceptionally busy and did not always come across as caring or treating patients with dignity and respect.

Staffing levels were not sufficient to ensure safety of patients could be maintained at all times. And while patients spoke positively about the care they received, the pressures on staff were having a detrimental effect on care.

For example, the risk of patients' health deteriorating was not acted upon in a timely way because early warning signs of deterioration were not always acknowledged.

We saw that the emergency department was not always clean and staff in the emergency department and Emergency Admissions Unit (EAU) did not adopt good hand hygiene or washing procedures.

CQC's Chief Inspector of Hospitals, Professor Sir Mike Richards, said:

"As a result of the issues highlighted as part of our inspection I wrote to Colchester Hospital NHS Foundation Trust. My letter informed the trust Chief Executive that CQC was using its urgent powers to take action with regard to the accident and emergency department at Colchester General Hospital.

"The action placed conditions on the trust's registration to help it improve how patients are assessed, discharged and transferred for the most appropriate medical attention. I also told the trust that it must ensure patient safety by introducing new ways of organising the emergency admissions unit.

"The trust is already in special measures and we informed Monitor of the breaches and of our action.

"Clearly improvements are needed and the trust faces a number of challenges to ensure it meets the required standards. The trust is aware of what action it now needs to take and our inspectors will return to check on whether the required improvements have been made. We will then decide whether or not it is appropriate to remove the conditions placed on the services at Colchester General Hospital."


For media enquiries, contact Louise Grifferty, regional communications manager, on 07717 422917 or contact CQC’s press office on 020 7448 9401, during office hours, or, out of hours, on 0778 987 6508. For general enquiries, call 03000 61 61 61.

Last updated:
30 May 2017

Notes to editors

Colchester Hospital University NHS Foundation Trust was rated as 'Requires Improvement' overall following a CQC inspection in May last year after it was selected for inspection, under CQC’s new inspection approach. It had also been inspected in 2013 as part of Sir Bruce Keogh's review of trusts with high mortality rates following which it was placed in to special measures. The trust remains in special measures.

The trust had also undergone a review regarding its cancer service waiting times, following a CQC inspection in August 2013.

About the Care Quality Commission

The Care Quality Commission (CQC) is the independent regulator of health and social care in England.

We make sure health and social care services provide people with safe, effective, compassionate, high-quality care and we encourage care services to improve.

We monitor, inspect and regulate services to make sure they meet fundamental standards of quality and safety and we publish what we find to help people choose care.