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East Midlands Ambulance Service has made ‘significant improvements’, inspectors reveal

Nottinghamshire’s struggling ambulance service has got better – but is still rated as ‘requiring improvement’.

East Midlands Ambulance Service (EMAS) was inspected by the Care Quality Commission (CQC) earlier this year after being branded as requires improvement in November 2015.

It was also served with a warning notice which required the trust to make significant improvements and ensure there were sufficient staff and vehicles available, and that staff received appropriate training, support and appraisal to carry out their roles.

The latest report, released today following an inspection on February 21, 22, and 23, and March 3 this year, said improvements had been made in these areas, but the CQC still classed the service was requiring improvement.

CQC’s chief inspector of hospitals, Professor Sir Mike Richards, said: “On our return to East Midlands Ambulance Service NHS Trust our inspectors found significant improvements had been made, and there were a number of areas of outstanding practice, but we still had some concerns.

“We found action had been taken to increase the number of front line staff, standards of cleanliness had improved and the majority of equipment and vehicle checks were appropriately completed. The number of vehicles delivering emergency and urgent care services had increased and potential risks to the service were anticipated and planned for.”There had been improvements in training and development opportunities and there was a high level of confidence in and respect for the acting chief executive. Staff were caring, professional, compassionate and patient focussed in challenging circumstances.”

Now, emergency and urgent care services are no longer rated as inadequate for safety but as requires improvement.

However, Prof Sir Richards said there were still some areas which could be improved, including response times.

“We were concerned that response times for some identified calls fell short of the national target which meant patients were not receiving care as quickly as they should,” he added. “There were variable standards of incident investigation and a lack of learning at an organisational level in relation to those incidents. “Staff did not always know their responsibilities with regard to the Duty of Candour regulation. We found pockets of concern about potential bullying and harassment of staff, and instances where policies and procedures relating to staff wellbeing were not followed. The trust was also not compliant with the requirements of the Fit and Proper Persons regulation.

“We have told the trust where further work is required to ensure patients receive the service they should be able to expect. The trust leadership knows what it needs to do to bring about improvement and our inspectors will return at a later date to check on what progress has been made.”

EMAS chief executive Richard Henderson said: “During its inspection the Care Quality Commission found that patients were overwhelmingly positive about our caring and compassionate staff across all levels and specialities of our service.

“Despite sustained challenges, the CQC recognised that we have made significant improvements since the November 2015 CQC inspection and I am pleased that the CQC has identified no new areas of concern, whilst identifying several areas of outstanding practice at EMAS. “I am sorry that some patients experienced unacceptable waits. During the year we have invested in new ambulance vehicles and our electronic patient record system, recruited more staff to our frontline, and improved the clinical outcomes for many of our patients.”

Chief Operating Officer at NHS Improvement, Mark Cubbon, added: “We are pleased to see the significant improvements the trust has made since 2015 reflected in the CQC’s report, particularly in terms of patient safety.

“While the trust clearly has some way to go, staff can be proud of their achievements in delivering professional and compassionate care.”We will continue to work closely with the trust to ensure that the areas for improvement identified in the CQC report are addressed at pace.”

Source Nottingham Post