Image caption A recent inspection found "unsafe" practices at Colchester Hospital were placing patients at risk of harm

The new head of Colchester Hospital has issued a "heartfelt apology" following the publication of a damning Care Quality Commission (CQC) report.

The trust has been in special measures for more than two years.

The latest inspection found concerns around clinical leadership, a bullying culture on one ward, and staff shortages.

In a statement the chief executive Nick Hulme, said: "We have not been good enough and need to do better."

'Optimistic over leadership'

England's Chief Inspector of Hospitals, Prof Sir Mike Richards, said the new CQC report follows its inspection of the hospital in April which looked at problems identified in a previous report.

Sir Mike said: "It was a real concern to us that significant improvements had not been made."

He welcomed the decision to put the chief executive of Ipswich Hospital Mr Hulme in charge of Colchester Hospital.

"We are optimistic about what will be achieved at the trust through this partnership, based on the strength of leadership that we have previously assessed at Ipswich," Sir Mike added.

Image caption Chief Inspector of Hospitals, Prof Sir Mike Richards, said he supported a partnership between Colchester and Ipswich
The CQC inspection's findings:
  • Significant concerns regarding the nursing leadership on Peldon Ward - concerns surrounding a "bullying culture" on the ward were raised with inspectors
  • There was a lack of clinical leadership in the emergency department and, although nursing leadership was good, doctors "were disengaged in the delivery of a safe, effective and responsive service".
  • Despite some improvements, the management and trust board still lacked a "robust grip" on identifying risks and the pace of improvement was too slow.

Mr Hulme, who joined the trust in May, said: "We need to take a long hard look at ourselves in the mirror. We are not consistently delivering a high quality of care to the people we serve in a timely and efficient manner.

"People in north east Essex deserve better from their local hospital trust and I want to give them a heartfelt apology."