The Care Quality Commission (CQC) has rated the performance of Colchester Hospital as poor for the second year in succession.
Staff were praised for being “dedicated” but inspectors said they “felt let down” because many agency workers did not show the same level of commitment.
Patients were at a “high risk” of harm according to the commission, and equipment utilised by the hospital was notably out of date.
Additionally, end-of-life patients did not always receive “safe or effective care”, according to an investigation conducted by the watchdog.
Operations were regularly cancelled and some cancer patients had to wait more than 100 days for treatment, the CQC discovered.
But the hospital contested the findings of the CQC, arguing that the final report failed to take account of the massive improvements it had made recently.
The CQC also suggested that the hospital had failed to make tangible improvements in the area of equipment, despite having received previous warnings on this matter.
It was asserted by the CQC that numerous items of equipment at Colchester Hospital had not been tested for many years.
Yet this had previously been raised as an item of concern at previous inspections.
And outpatients were often placed “at high risk of avoidable harm” because of a “real lack of understanding” of waiting lists.
Colchester Hospital University NHS Foundation Trust had originally been placed in special measures over cancer data inaccuracies back in November 2013.
And the latest assessment from the CQC follows the hospital being rated inadequate by the CQC almost exactly one year ago.
At that time the assessor had indicated that Colchester Hospital must take “urgent enforcement action”.
Yet evidently there has been insufficient progress over the last twelve months, despite the recent chief executive appointment of Frank Sims.
Commenting on the performance of Colchester Hospital, Prof Sir Mike Richards, the Chief Inspector of Hospitals, stated his belief that the hospital has a “serious number of problems” and has shown “only limited capacity to improve”.
“While the staff have been working hard through many issues to drive improvements locally, their efforts have been affected by poor leadership and a high use of agency staff, some of whom are unsuitable in terms of their skills and knowledge,” Richards asserted.
Responding to the concerns of investigators, the aforementioned Sims indicated that he was disappointed with the findings of investigators, and to some extent disagree with them.
Nonetheless, Sims also acknowledged that the report had made numerous valid points, and that it would be utilised as a “blueprint for improvement” by the hospital.