Care Quality Commission
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CQC finds improvement is needed in Essex hospital’s medical care

The Care Quality Commission’s rating of Colchester General Hospital’s medical care service has dropped from good to requires improvement, following an inspection undertaken in November.

The hospital is run by East Suffolk and North Essex NHS Foundation Trust.

CQC inspected six of the hospital's medical care wards, which include older people’s care, after receiving concerning information about the safety and quality of care and treatment being provided to people.

In addition to rating the service requires improvement overall following the inspection, the service was also rated requires improvement for being safe, effective, responsive to people’s needs and well-led. CQC rated the service good for being caring.

Overall ratings for Colchester General Hospital and the trust are unchanged following this inspection. Both remain requires improvement overall.

Antoinette Smith, CQC head of hospital inspection in the east of England, said:

“While there were areas where people were receiving good care and treatment in Colchester General Hospital’s medical care, there were issues that East Suffolk and North Essex NHS Foundation Trust, as provider of the service, must address.

“The service’s staffing arrangements weren’t always sufficient to meet the needs of people using it. While many NHS services and those across the wider healthcare sector face this challenge, the trust must find ways to prevent this compromising the care it provides to people.

“The trust must also ensure staff complete all required training, to ensure the service is safely able to meet people’s needs, and that measures to prevent the spread of infection are followed.

“However, despite these issues, there were aspects of the care being provided to people that were of high quality. This includes steps being taken to manage risks, and collaboration between staff which was in people’s best interest.

“We also found people were treated with kindness and compassion.

“We’ve reported our findings to East Suffolk and North Essex NHS Foundation Trust, so it knows what it needs to address in the service.

“We continue to monitor the service, including through future inspections, to ensure people receive care and treatment that meets standards they have a right to expect.”

The inspection found:

  • Staff were not always up to date with mandatory training in key skills, including for safeguarding
  • The service did not have enough staff to care for people and keep them safe
  • Staff did not always provide safe care and treatment, or adequately respond to people’s needs
  • Staff did not always effectively communicate discharge information for people leaving the wards to return to the community
  • Leaders did not always operate effective governance processes
  • Staff did not always comply with infection prevention control principles
  • Legislation to protect people’s privacy and confidential information, in relation to their records, was not always met
  • Staff did not always feel respected, supported and valued
  • Staff did not always ensure people and those close to them understood their care and treatment
  • Managers could not always support staff to develop through yearly, constructive appraisals of their work.


  • Staff assessed and acted on risks to people, and they kept safe care records
  • Managers monitored the effectiveness of the service and made sure staff were competent
  • Staff collaborated well for people’s benefit, advised them on how to lead healthier lives, supported them to make decisions about their care, and had access to useful information. Key services were available daily
  • Staff treated people with compassion and kindness, respected their privacy and dignity, took account of their individual needs, and helped them understand their conditions. They provided emotional support to people, and their families and carers
  • The service planned care to meet the needs of local people, took account of people’s individual needs, and made it easy to give feedback
  • Leaders ran services well using reliable information systems, and they supported staff to develop their skills. Staff understood the service’s vision and values, and how to apply them in their work. They were focused on the needs of people receiving care. Staff were clear about their roles and accountabilities
  • The service engaged well with people and the community to plan and manage services, and all staff were committed to improving services continually.
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