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CQC welcome further improvements found at South Central Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust

06/11/2018

England's Chief Inspector of Hospitals has welcomed improvements at South Central Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust following its latest inspection by the Care Quality Commission.

A team of inspectors from the Care Quality Commission visited South Central Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust in July and August 2018 to check the quality of three core services: emergency and urgent care service, resilience, and the emergency operation centres. CQC also looked specifically at management and leadership to answer the key question: Is the trust well led?

The trust is now rated as Good for the overall quality of its services. The trust is also rated as Good for being safe, caring, effective, responsive to people's needs and well led.

CQC Deputy Chief Inspector of Hospitals, Dr Nigel Acheson, said:

"We are all well aware of the pressures on our ambulance services – so I am pleased to acknowledge the continuing improvements made by South Central Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust to build on the findings of our last inspection.

"The trust has implemented changes to ensure the organisation is more effective but still remains patient centred. Staff have consistently demonstrated kindness, dignity and respect to patients and callers during some very difficult and demanding situations.

"We found a strong senior leadership team that was able to address any risks to performance, while ensuring that these improvements could also be delivered.

Full reports including the latest ratings are available at: https://www.cqc.org.uk/provider/RYE

In emergency and urgent care, inspectors found the trust ensured there were enough staff and they could do their roles competently. Different roles worked closely together as a team for the benefit of patients. This included staff being given access to enhanced clinical support when they needed it. While some staff felt there were gaps in their training, there was evidence of regular appraisals where staff were supported to improve the effectiveness of themselves and the service.

Overall the trust's performance for dealing with Category 1 emergency calls is better than the national average.

The trust's resilience services (specialist teams who deal with extreme emergencies), have been rated Good overall. Inspectors found that staff were equipped to managed patients' pain levels effectively. Some paramedics also had additional skills to administer pain relief to patients whose pain was not being effectively managed.

The inspection found that the hazardous area response team, resilience and special operations services have close working relationships with local partner agencies. The service had set up regular joint working days between local resilience forums and themselves. This supported the development of shared processes in the

SCAS region to improve the resilience of services for the local populations during times of crisis.

Within the emergency operations centre, inspectors found that services were planned and audited to meet local needs, although there were periods when the service was unable to provide enough emergency call takers. There had been some turnover of staff including clinicians and call takers: at times call answering performance was below the national average.

But the inspection found that staff cared for patients with compassion, involving patients and those close to them in decisions about their care and treatment, and provided emotional support. Staff also understood their roles and responsibilities in relation to safeguarding vulnerable adults and children.

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