Health check at N&N shows cancer data is safe

Anna Dugdale, chief executive of the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital.

Anna Dugdale, chief executive of the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital. - Credit: copyright: Archant 2013

Measures are in place to prevent the falsification of patient records at Norfolk's biggest hospital after allegations that staff at another East Anglian hospital had amended data to meet cancer targets.

The chief executive of the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital called for a review of her own hospital's cancer data recording after health watchdog the Care Quality Commission (CQC) found 'inaccuracies' in the record keeping at Colchester General Hospital.

Anna Dudgale told the council of governors yesterday that the internal review at the N&N had reassured staff that they were correctly recording cancer treatment figures.

She added that four senior members of staff at the Norfolk hospital had been asked to go to Colchester to help turnaround the fortunes of the under-fire Essex hospital.

'We already do a lot of data collection and self audit and we wanted to look back to see if we were recording things in the right way – we would never want to cheat the targets,' she said.

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'Four of our clinicians have been asked to go to Colchester and support them to do the right thing,' she said.

Mrs Dugdale said the N&N was hitting its targets of making sure at least 85pc of cancer patients were having their treatment started within 62 days of urgent GP referral and that at least 96pc of cancer patients should wait no more than 31 days from the decision to treat to the start of their first treatment.

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CQC inspectors visited Colchester Hospital in August and September and found that on 22 records, treatment dates had been changed and were different on different systems and that data had been amended so that patients did not breach the waiting time standard.

They found that three of those patients had waited more than 100 days for treatment.

Officials at the N&N said that any mismatch in recorded treatment dates in chemotherapy, surgery and radiotherapy were investigated by an independent data quality team and there was a tracking list to ensure patients got treated within targets.

The review by the Norfolk trust highlighted that consultants and cancer nurse specialists needed to be reminded to inform patients if there was a delay in tests or treatment and there should be a weekly report of all patients who have waited over 100 days.

In a report, Julie Cave, director of resources, said: 'The results of the audit have provided evidence that our procedures and reporting of cancer data is appropriate. Some improvements have been highlighted and these will be actioned immediately.'

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