A nurse has been arrested on suspicion of stealing drugs from hospitals run by Colchester Hospital University Foundation Trust, local police have disclosed.

HSJ reported news that a police had begun an investigation into alleged irregularities concerning controlled drugs last week but the local constabulary have now released further details.  

A spokeswoman for Essex Police said a 41-year-old woman from Dunmow was arrested on 11 June in connection with alleged irregularities concerning controlled drugs at Essex County Hospital and Essex General Hospital.

The suspect has been released on bail until 17 July.

She added: “Detectives in Colchester investigating alleged irregularities concerning controlled drugs at Essex County Hospital and Colchester Hospital have arrested a woman on suspicion of theft.  

“The matter was referred to police by [the trust] an enquiries are on going.”

The trust has made no formal comment on the story.

The news follows the embattled trust beginning a separate disciplinary investigation and suspending a member of staff in relation to alleged wrongful manipulation of cancer patients’ waiting time data.

The two matters are not believed to be connected.

The staff suspension follows whistleblowers reporting separate allegations of “bullying and harassment and the alleged manipulation of endoscopy and dermatology waiting lists”, which has been highlighted in an independent report.

A trust statement said: “Having considered the report carefully the trust has now initiated a disciplinary investigation and yesterday a member of staff was suspended pending the outcome of this disciplinary process.

“The report does not reach any firm conclusions about the allegations but it recommends that the trust consider whether it should begin disciplinary proceedings against any member of staff.”

Interim chief executive Lucy Moore said in a statement: “It would be wrong to prejudge the outcome of the disciplinary process but it is important to stress that nothing is more important to us than the safety and wellbeing of those we care for.

“We will now conduct a wider review and we will be open and transparent as we proceed taking all necessary steps to ensure ongoing patient safety.”

The hospital said it took the action after receiving the independent report into serious concerns two weeks ago.

The news follows a Care Quality Commission report into the trust, published last November, which said there were “inaccuracies” in waiting time data relating to cancer treatment.

Staff told inspectors they were “pressured or bullied” to change data to make it seem as though people were being treated in line with national guidelines, the report said.