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Chief Inspector of Hospitals finds Colchester Hospital University NHS Foundation Trust requires improvement

17 July 2014
  • Media,
  • Hospitals

England's Chief Inspector of Hospitals has published his first report on the quality of services provided by Colchester Hospital University NHS Foundation Trust.

Essex County Hospital and Colchester General Hospital were rated as ‘Requiring Improvement’ under the new inspection regime, introduced by the Care Quality Commission, to provide a much more detailed picture of care in hospitals than ever before.

Inspectors found that both of the trust’s hospitals needed to make changes and both were rated as ‘Requires Improvement’ and overall the trust is rated as ‘Requires Improvement’.

The trust was judged as ‘Inadequate’ with regard to whether services were well-led. It was rated as ‘Requires Improvement’ for whether services were safe or responsive and ‘Good’ with regard to whether services were effective and caring.

Full copies of the report on the trust and those on the two hospitals inspected can be found on the Colchester Hospital University NHS Foundation Trust profile page.

An inspection team, including doctors, nurses, midwives, hospital managers, trained members of the public, a variety of specialists, CQC inspectors and analysts spent four days at the hospitals in May.

Colchester Hospital University NHS Foundation Trust was selected for inspection, under CQC’s new inspection approach, because it was a high risk trust. It was inspected last year as part of Sir Bruce Keogh’s review of trusts with high mortality rates and was placed in to special measures in October 2013. The trust remains in special measures.

It has since undergone a review regarding its cancer service waiting times, following a CQC inspection last August. A police investigation related to the cancer waiting times is ongoing.

CQC’s most recent inspection, which took place between 6 and 8 and 16 and 19 May, recognised that leadership of the trust had undergone significant change, resulting in a lack of stability and clear direction at board-level. The inspection also found that nurse staffing levels, particularly in medical elderly wards, were lower than guidance recommended.

There are a number of areas where the Care Quality Commission has identified the trust must improve:

  • There were multiple areas requiring improvement to ensure the trust is safe, effective and responsive.
  • The trust needed to recruit a substantive board of directors and to develop a clear strategy for leadership development at all levels.
  • An independent review of the management of elective waiting lists in all areas is needed.
  • Systems and processes for the storage and management of all medicines, including controlled drugs, is required.

Inspectors found some good practice at the trust, including:

  • Patients and relatives spoke highly of services.
  • Caring and compassion was evident in all clinical areas.
  • There were good standards of cleanliness and good systems and processes for infection prevention and control.
  • The trust benefited from a committed and loyal workforce.

CQC’s Chief Inspector of Hospitals, Professor Sir Mike Richards, said: “There have been concerns about the number of changes Colchester Hospital University NHS Foundation Trust has undergone in its leadership over the past year and it is vital this is addressed, through substantive appointments being made, to bring about stability.

“There were a significant number of other areas where the trust also needed to make improvements. CQC would normally take enforcement action in these instances, however, as the trust is already in special measures, we have informed Monitor of the breaches, and they will make sure these are appropriately addressed and progress is monitored through the special measures action plan.

“Inspectors found some examples of good care, and the trust was found to be effective and staff were caring, but changes are clearly required 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.”


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 07917 232 143. For general enquiries, call 03000 61 61 61.

Last updated:
30 May 2017

Notes to editors

The Chief Inspector of Hospitals, Professor Sir Mike Richards, is leading significantly larger inspection teams than before, headed up by clinical and other experts including trained members of the public. By the end of 2015, CQC will have inspected all acute NHS Trusts in the country with its new inspection model. Whenever CQC inspects it will always ask the following five questions of every service: Is it safe? Is it effective? Is it caring? Is it responsive to people’s needs? Is it well-led?

This report describes our judgement of the overall quality of care provided by this trust. It is based on a combination of what we found when we inspected, information from our ‘Intelligent Monitoring’ system, and information given to us from patients, the public and other organisations.

The Care Quality Commission has already presented its findings to a local Quality Summit, including NHS commissioners, providers, regulators and other public bodies. The purpose of the Quality Summit is to develop a plan of action and recommendations based on the inspection team’s findings.

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.