Colchester Hospital has been put in special measures / PA

Decision taken after staff were forced to change cancer waiting times data

The hospital at the centre of a police investigation over allegations staff changed cancer waiting times figures has been placed in special measures.

Health regulator Monitor said that the Colchester Hospital University NHS Trust had breached its licence to provide health services, after a Care Quality Commission report found evidence that staff were "bullied" into altering figures to meet national targets.

It is the 13th NHS trust to be handed the sanction. The regulator will appoint an improvement director to oversee changes to the way the trust is run, but, unlike other hospitals placed in special measures, the current board and senior management will remain.

Adam Cayley, Regional Director for Monitor said: "Following the urgent actions already taken to safeguard patients at the trust we have stepped in formally to assure the health and wellbeing of patients using the cancer pathway at Colchester.

"The trust has been given an explicit set of actions to improve the service it offers patients. We will be monitoring progress closely and we will not hesitate to take further regulatory action if required."

However, union leaders said that the trusts leadership should be changed. Tracey Lambert, Unison's regional head of health said: "The trust board has lost the confidence of patients and the public in north-east Essex and people want to see strong, positive action to improve health care at the hospital."