Health chiefs order South Western Ambulance Service to make improvements

Care Quality Commission

Care Quality Commission - Credit: Archant

South Western Ambulance Service has been ordered to make improvements by health chiefs.

This follows a Care Quality Commission inspection in June which highlighted a need for improvements in the emergency and urgent care and patient transport services.

Inspectors also noted the body needed to improve its safety, effectiveness and how well-led it was but did highlight its caring as outstanding and responsiveness as good.

Professor Sir Mike Richards, England’s Chief Inspector of Hospitals, said they found some variation in the quality across the services.

For example there were significant gaps in mandatory training and they found the levels of staffing were not always sufficient to provide relief when staff were training or on leave.

He added he was also ‘concerned’ not all staff were reporting incidents particularly when they were verbally abused by callers.

“Some felt they did not have time to report all incidents, so losing the chance to learn from them and take appropriate action in future,” Prof Richards said.

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“During the inspection we identified a number of areas for improvement which we have passed on to the trust and to local commissioners. Our inspectors will return at a later date to check on their progress.”

He added the trust did however have a strong and stable leadership team which put quality and safety as key priorities. The inspector noted staff and resources were well organised across a wide geographic area and responded well, on the most part, to the most urgent calls and working closely with other NHS providers to maximise the effectiveness of the service.

Prof Richards said they found staff in the emergency operations centres and emergency and urgent services to be outstanding in the way they supported people who were distressed or overwhelmed in often highly stressful situations.

He added the demand for emergency care grew year by year and their ambulance services had never been busier.

“I know that South Western Ambulance Service is at the forefront of national improvements in the ambulance service, exploring better ways to deal with emergency calls so that people get the attention they need, in the right place and at the right time.”

A meeting was held last week where a plan of action was established to help the trust introduce the improvements needed.