WORKFORCE: The chief executive of Colchester Hospital University Trust has resigned following an investigation into allegations that staff were bullied into manipulating cancer waiting time date data.

Gordon Coutts had been on sick leave and today announced he would not be returning to his post.  

He said: “I realise that this is an extremely difficult time for the trust as it seeks to understand where it has failed patients in the past and seeks to rebuild the confidence of patients, the public and stakeholders in the many excellent services it offers.

“Underpinning this will be the need to lead and support staff to deliver high quality and safe services. I regret that there have been problems in the trust’s cancer services. As chief executive I always took my responsibility for what happened in the organisation very seriously. I am sorry that some of our patients were let down and that what has happened may have damaged local people’s confidence in their hospitals.”

Dr Coutts added: “I am extremely proud to leave behind a highly competent and dedicated leadership team that I am confident will take forward the improvements currently underway in the trust.”

Tim Roberts, regional organiser for Unison, said Mr Coutts should have resigned “weeks ago”.

“I am very proud that it was Unison members who blew the whistle about what was going on in cancer services after management tried to bully them into changing the data and threatened them to keep quiet about the dodgy practices,” he added.

“It seems that some critically ill patients did not receive the appropriate treatment at the right time because of the falsification of data.  He was the leader of the organisation and was ultimately accountable for patient safety. We hope the trust board will move quickly to recruit a new permanent chief executive who can lead the organisation out of the mess.”