NHS England to lead an incident management team as Care Quality Commission finds failings in cancer services at Colchester Hospital University Foundation Trust.

NHS England is to lead a team of cancer specialists to ensure the safety of cancer patients following a critical report by the Care Quality Commission (CQC) into services at Colchester Hospital University Foundation Trust (CHUFT).

NHS England shares the serious concerns of the CQC’s inspectors whose report reveals failures in the way some cancer pathways at CHUFT were managed.

The safety of patients should be the first concern of everyone who works in the NHS.

NHS England is working closely with the North East Essex Clinical Commissioning Group (NEECCG) to ensure that CHUFT provides safe services and that this cannot happen again. It is essential that current practice at the trust is compliant with national standards. NEECCG has been seeking urgent assurance from the hospital about patient safety which has included a detailed review of each cancer treatment pathway, weekly monitoring and a jointly commissioned report from the NHS Cancer Intensive Support team.

In addition NHS England will lead an incident management team to co-ordinate a multi-partner response. In the coming weeks there will be a review of all cancer pathways at CHUFT from 2010 to the present, to check whether any other patients had their treatment or waiting time records changed or inappropriately recorded.

The current issue came to light during the Keogh Review of CHUFT in June when the review team was approached by a whistle-blower worried about cancer services at the trust. This alarm was immediately passed to the CQC for investigation. It is vitally important that organisations listen and respond to whistle-blowers.