Clinical Negligence: Colchester hospital safety standard is inadequate, says official report

Following an official inspection by the Care Quality Commission (CQC) into Colchester Hospital, ‘safety’ at the hospital has been deemed inadequate.

Further, this report indicates that overall patient safety appears to be deteriorating at the hospital. A previous report by the CQC, published in July 2014, declared safety standards to be requiring improvement, but the hospital has now received even greater condemnation.

In their damming report, inspectors comment on a lack of good hygiene amongst staff and uncleanliness in the Accident and Emergency Department, leading to poor infection control. Furthermore, certain departments within the hospital were found to be understaffed, leading to staff not having the time to properly care for patients and treat them with dignity and respect. In the case of the hospital’s Accident and Emergency Department, a lack of staff led to inspector’s witnessing queues of ambulances being left waiting, with patients yet to be taken-in by the department.

This in itself will concern patients and users of the services at Colchester Hospital, but unfortunately the criticism does not end there. Whilst observing practices at the Hospital in December, inspectors themselves had to bring to the attention of senior staff the need to escalate the treatment of four patients. Inspectors stated the care these patients were receiving, which they witnessed, was inadequate and risked causing the patient further suffering.

Of grave concern is the fact inspectors identify, and highlight, instances where clinical procedures were being carried out on patients without their prior consent or best interest’s decision being taken. There were also cases of acutely unwell patients not being cared for in a safe way or being escalated for further treatment. Cases such as these, depending on their individual circumstances, may involve medical negligence.

Commenting on today’s damming report, Dominic Graham, clinical negligence lawyer at Blackwater Law, said:

“It is disappointing to see such a poor report from the Care Quality Commission. It is not clear whether any lessons have been learned following previous inspections. The report highlights the fact staff are exceptionally busy, whilst morale is very low and stress levels are high. This situation cannot continue.

“Staff and patient safety is being put at risk and the failure to address this fundamental problem is unacceptable.

“The Care Quality Commission stated their findings would usually result in enforcement action, but as Colchester Hospital is already in “Special Measures” the breaches have been reported to Monitor (the Regulator of health services in England). This suggests Colchester is failing to heed the numerous warnings and failing to make badly-needed improvements.

“The management of Colchester Hospital must immediately raise their game otherwise more patients will suffer injuries and illness that could easily have been avoided.”

As one might expect, Management at the hospital in Essex have argued the report is unbalanced, although they acknowledge that the examples of poor standards of care identified by inspectors are unacceptable.

Consistent failings in hospitals, such as those reported to be found at Colchester hospital, increase the risk that patients will not receive the vital care and treatment they need. This in turn increases the likelihood that patients will suffer from medical negligence.

Where a patient is deemed to have been the victim of clinical negligence, such as:

  • Surgical errors
  • Delayed diagnosis
  • Misdiagnosis
  • Poor medical advice or treatment
  • Unnecessary delays in treatment

and this has led to additional suffering or a deterioration in the patient’s health, then the patient may be entitled to make a claim for clinical negligence compensation.

If you believe you, or a family member, have received poor care and may have suffered medical negligence, call 0800 032 5500 today and speak to a specialist clinical negligence solicitor in Essex.