A police investigation has been launched following claims made by staff members at Colchester General Hospital that they were “pressured or bullied” into falsifying patient data.

The Care Quality Commission (CQC) has found that inaccurate medical records were kept at the Colchester General Hospital relating to patients’ waiting time for cancer treatment. The records were altered, so on paper, it appeared people had been treated in line with national guidelines.

The CQC has examined 61 patient records, and identified 22 cases in which the delay in treatment could have had “a negative impact on the person using the service.” The CQC’s report found that some patients were not treated within the 62 required days, three patients experienced delays of more than 100 days.

Essex Police are assessing the possibilities of a ‘criminal investigation’ and Professor Sir Mike Richards, chief inspector of hospitals, has suggested that Colchester General Hospital could potentially be put under new management. There will also be a review of records dating back as far as 2010, to ensure that no further cases have been ‘inappropriately recorded’.

Gwen Kirby-Dent, a clinical negligence solicitor at Thompsons, said: “I am currently representing a client who suffered misdiagnosis of cancer at Colchester General Hospital with catastrophic consequences, so news that cancer patients’ lives are continuing to be put at risk merely to satisfy paperwork procedures is incredibly distressing.

“High quality care is something that every patient deserves. Only a thorough investigation will rebuild patient trust in care at Colchester General.”