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Wolverhampton's New Cross cancer scandal: Hospital chiefs say patients not harmed

Wolverhampton | News | Published:

No harm was caused to patients given extra strong chemotherapy outside normal treatment guidelines, health bosses said today.

Today Dr Helen Hibbs, clinical lead at Wolverhampton Clinical Commissioning Group, the body responsible for health care in the city, said: "We are aware of this issue and supported the trust in its internal review.

The head of the cancer division that gave 55 patients unconventional chemotherapy has defended the unit.

Graham Williams, lead clinician of colorectal cancer at New Cross, said: "The Wolverhampton Colorectal Cancer Multi-disciplinary team takes great pride in the treatment it delivers to patients unfortunate enough to develop bowel cancer who are referred to our service.

"The National Bowel Cancer Audit Report for 2014 highlighted some of the excellent results achieved by the team, with a low 90 day adjusted mortality of 1.4 per cent (national average 4.6 per cent) and a low two year adjusted mortality from colorectal cancer of 18.4 per cent (National average 24 per cent).

"These figures reflect the hard work and diligence of all staff involved in treating bowel cancer in Wolverhampton."

"We are committed to commissioning safe services and therefore welcome the findings of the Care Quality Commission's investigation. We are reassured that appropriate actions had been taken regarding staff and the protocols involved, and that there were no clinical concerns raised due to the non-standard treatment."

Professor Sir Mike Richards, CQC chief inspector of hospitals, said the treatment was not in line with practice at the time: "We were informed that an internal investigation had been conducted in 2009. This showed that a number of patients had received treatment for their cancer which was not recommended in national guidelines. We were also informed that this non-standard practice had ceased by 2009.

"We inspected the trust again in June 2015. Our inspection team included a senior cancer specialist to enable us to look specifically at the trust's current chemotherapy service. The conclusion of this inspection matched that of the previous reviews. We found that changes had been made and that the trust was providing a safe chemotherapy service. We have had several conversations with a whistleblower.

"Our report was published in September 2015 with a reference to the whistleblower. It concludes that the trust has acted properly to concerns raised and taken steps to learn from the incident.

"Making sure that patients get safe, high-quality and compassionate care continues to be our priority. If we receive information to suggest patients are not being cared for appropriately we will not hesitate to take action."

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