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Over 500 serious incidents recorded at Colchester Hospital in two years

Colchester General Hospital this week admitted that records show 563 serious incidents – including avoidable deaths to abuse allegations – over a two year period.

Recorded incidents

Though the hospital has refused to divulge exactly what the 563 cases involved, the incidents have been defined as those that have caused, or threatened, serious harm to patients, the public, hospital staff and the trust itself.

These incidents include serious hospital-acquired infection outbreaks, allegations of abuse, unexpected and avoidable deaths, serious harm requiring lifesaving intervention and maternal mortality.

The 563 incidents do not include any incidents that are part of the normal running of a hospital, for example, deaths due to serious illness or expected surgical complications.

Instead, they have all been recorded because they have arisen from errors being made.

Additionally, the figures have excluded all cancer-related cases, which are being investigated separately after allegations that the hospital tampered with data last year.

Unprecedented demand

Since the hospital failed a surprise inspection by the Care Quality Commission – which found a worryingly high level of demand, and also raised concerns relating to inappropriate restraint and sedation of elderly patients – people have been urged only to attend the hospital if they have a life-threatening condition.

Allegations have also suggested that waiting time figures were tampered with in order to meet targets, whilst a CQC spokesman also confirmed that a dead body was taken through the A&E department within the sight of patients.

What is being done?

As well as closing its doors to all but life-threatening emergencies, when the major internal incident was declared, the hospital also began discharging all patients who were clinically fit to leave.

A council spokesperson said:

“Specialist advisers are providing extra support to hospital-based social
care staff and we have brought in additional resources to help with
the assessment of patients. Care home placements which were made
over this weekend were all to local homes and choice was
offered. We have not had any requests to
find more placements this week.”

Additionally, a spokeswoman from the trust said:

“Black alert is a hospital’s most severe internal status level and means
we have far more demand coming through A&E than beds available. We
are currently on red status [one step down from black] but
were on black alert throughout [Monday] and,
separately, for three days last week.”

If you have been affected by medical negligence, and you would like expert advice, contact the Hampson Hughes Solicitors Medical Negligence Team today on 0151 242 1025 or email

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