PERFORMANCE: The Care Quality Commission has criticised the trust at the centre of a scandal over cancer waiting data manipulation for failing to tell inspectors it had received further allegations of waiting lists being manipulated.

The criticism came in an inspection report - published today - which rated the leadership of Colchester Hospital University Foundation Trust as “inadequate” and the trust overall as “requires improvement”.

The report stated that after CQC inspectors had finished their on-site visits of the trust “the CQC were made aware via a whistleblower that the trust had received further allegations of manipulation of waiting lists in a service within the trust”. It continued: “The trust failed to notify the CQC of the findings of an external review. The CQC would expect the trust to share this data with the inspection team.”

Colchester was placed in special measures in November following allegations that staff were pressured into manipulating cancer patients’ data.

The CQC rated the effectiveness of the FT’s services as “good”, but rated its safety and responsiveness as “requires improvement”. Leadership was rated “inadequate”.

The inspection report pointed to “significant changes in the executive team” at the trust, which had resulted in a “lack of stability and clear direction at board level”.

This “presented a challenge in terms of succession planning, stability and the perception of leadership commitment across the organisation,” it continued.

At the point of inspection, the entire executive team - except for the medical director and director of nursing - were interim appointments.

The report recommended that the trust “recruit a substantive and credible board of directors” and develop a “clear strategy for leadership development at all levels”.

The trust is also required to commission an independent review of its elective waiting lists in all areas.

Colchester interim chief executive Lucy Moore said: “The last year or so has been a difficult and challenging time.”  

She said the trust had “made significant improvements” but there was “still a massive amount to do”.

“We provide most of our patients with very good care but some of our services need improvement and our support processes leave much to be desired,” she said.  

“We are not yet in a position where we can truthfully say that all the difficulties are behind us.”

The trust has promised to submit an action plan to the CQC by 12 August.

Dr Moore said it would form an “improvement board” to review progress. Its membership will include NHS England, North East Essex Clinical Commissioning Group, Monitor, Healthwatch Essex, Essex County Council and Health Education East of England.

The trust’s two sites, Colchester General Hospital and Essex County Hospital, were also individually given “requires improvement” ratings by the CQC.