Concern continues about patient safety at Colchester General Hospital

Safety for patients at Colchester General Hospital continues to be a major concern after the recent surprise inspection resulted in people being told to stay away from A&E unless they had serious or life-threatening injuries. The ‘major incident’ came at a time when figures show an unprecedented number of people attending A&E across the country.

Highest levels of A&E admissions in NHS history

Last week saw the number of admissions to A&E departments throughout England hit an all-time high. Colchester Hospital is not alone in having to ask people to think twice about whether their situation requires emergency treatment before they take the decision to go to A&E. Others have had to declare temporary ‘black alerts’, where routine operations are cancelled to free up bed space or patients redirected to other hospitals because of overcapacity.

Colchester General Hospital now among the worst in England, says Healthwatch England

Like NHS hospitals elsewhere – aside from coping with the effects of budget cuts – Colchester is suffering from a significant shortfall of nurses; at least 170 according to estimates from the Royal College of Nursing. However, from being classed as ‘mid-table’ in 2013 in terms of its performance, in just one year Colchester General has become “one of the worst hospitals in the country” according to Dr Katherine Rake – Head of consumer organisation, Healthwatch England.

Complaints doubled to an average of 8 a day

Over the years, Colchester has been repeatedly under the spotlight. Back in 2010, figures showed higher than average death rates for the previous 4 out of 5 years and, last November, the hospital was one of those placed in special measures after a Care Quality Commission (CQC) inspection found that cancer patients records had been altered to cover up treatment delays. In the past year, patient complaints have almost doubled from 1,592 to 2,997.

When is a complaint classed as medical negligence?

It is vital that patients are able to make a complaint to a hospital, clinic or surgery if they feel they have not been treated properly. Often – provided the patient hasn’t suffered harm – the situation can be resolved. However, sometimes the issues are due to medical negligence on the part of the health professional, whether that be through error, oversight or through procedures not being followed properly. When this happens, it is important to get legal advice.


Gillian Gadsby of specialist medical negligence firm Gadsby Wicks says: “medical negligence can cause serious harm to patients and can happen for a number of reasons, one of which can be through the patient’s safety being compromised. Issues such as understaffing and over-stretched health services can contribute to the human errors that lead to conditions being misdiagnosed or overlooked, mistakes in surgery or medication or failings in general nursing care”.

Watch a video of Gillian’s explanation of medical negligence

Legal advice for patients in Essex and beyond

Gillian again: “Making a medical negligence claim is a long process – it is not a means to a windfall. The compensation we seek for patients is to help them deal with the financial consequences of them being injured. It requires a lot of detailed investigation into what happened and also to determine what the likely consequences will be long-term. For that reason, we make sure we meet with the client face to face and allocate a dedicated lawyer to them for the duration of the case”.


For over twenty years, the specialist lawyers at Gadsby Wicks have successfully handled claims for patients and their families where their treatment has resulted in harm, a disability, or even death. Based in Chelmsford, Essex, the firm is experienced in handling claims against hospitals throughout the region – including Colchester General Hospital – and beyond.


If you, or someone you love, have received medical treatment that you feel is inadequate, you could be entitled to medical compensation. Please contact Gadsby Wicks on 0800 321 3112 and speak to one of our medically qualified advisers or contact us to make an enquiry.


For more information on Healthwatch England and their work on encouraging better standards of health and social care, please click here

Posted 27th November 2014 | Posted in News,Uncategorised