Our CQC rating

This page provides updates on our improvement programme following the Care Quality Commission changing our rating in August 2022.

Ambulance care assistants moving patient

A 2022 inspection of our emergency and urgent cares services together with a review against the CQC’s well-led domain led to the CQC moving our rating to inadequate. We are working hard to address the concerns raised by the CQC and are providing monthly updates on this page.

November 2022

In this month’s update we want to highlight the range of actions SCAS has taken to address the eleven “must do” recommendations from the CQC’s August 2022 report. These were the most important areas for us to make rapid progress on. 

We’re pleased to say there has been good progress, thanks to the huge amount of work by teams across the trust in the last few months.

A host of policies and processes have been reviewed and updated, with a mix of building on what we have and adopting new approaches from local partners and across the country.

Audits of our vehicles, sites and equipment have been carried out. Member of the Board and colleagues across all functions have also been through training to refresh their knowledge and learn new skills; from safeguarding to supporting colleagues

Obviously, all our improvements need to be sustainable for the long-term, so there is lots more still to do. Our response to the CQC report is being aligned with existing plans to improve our performance, quality, governance and culture; to make sure we embed and continue to monitor the improvements we’re making. Our objective is to improve patient safety and experience alongside improving staff wellbeing. 

The winter months ahead of us will be challenging; both for everyone in SCAS and across all our health and care partners. 

The immediate focus must be providing the best possible care to patients; but we are confident we will also continue to see progress with our longer-term improvement plans.

Thank you to all our partners who continue to support SCAS with the improvement programme and helping provide all our patients with the best care possible. 

Will Hancock, Chief Executive

Professor Sir Keith Willett, Chair

Read the full November 2022 update

October 2022

The CQC’s August 2022 report has highlighted some serious concerns which we must, and will, fix as a matter of urgency.

The board takes responsibility for the findings in the report and we will work with colleagues across the Trust and our partners to put things right. We have already taken swift action but we recognise there is more to do.

Providing the best possible care to all our patients remains our top priority.We have an extensive improvement plan and we are committed to making things better. We will keep focused on putting things right until we and the CQC are confident all the concerns have been fixed.

In doing so we are confident SCAS will become a better Trust than it has ever been, both for our patients and our staff and volunteers.

There is enormous dedication and pride across all our teams. Their commitment to providing the best possible care to patients throughout the pandemic and the continued pressure on the NHS has been outstanding. This commitment was recognised in the CQC’s report; and it is also being applied to addressing their concerns

Will Hancock, Chief Executive

Professor Sir Keith Willett, Chair

Read the full October 2022 update

August 2022

This was our public statement on25 August 2022 – the day the CQC published their new report:

South Central Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust (SCAS) is determined to make rapid improvements following the latest rating from the Care Quality Commission (CQC).

Will Hancock, Chief Executive, said: “The CQC has highlighted some serious concerns which we must, and will, fix as a matter of urgency. I want to reassure everyone that we have already taken swift action, but I recognise we have more to do. Providing the best possible care to all our patients remains our top priority.

“We have an extensive improvement plan and we are committed to making things better. We will keep focused on putting things right until we and the CQC are confident all the concerns have been fixed.

“It is vital that every member of our team can raise concerns with the confidence they will be dealt with quickly and effectively. We are also working with our partners across the NHS to manage the on-going pressures so we can improve response times and hospital handover times.”

Immediate actions taken include:

  • Reviewed all outstanding safeguarding referrals, increased resources for safeguarding team, external safeguarding review completed, and new training programme developed
  • Increasing capacity in ambulance crews and call centres
  • Improved processes for handling serious incident reviews
  • Enhanced equipment checks on all 660 vehicles
  • Weekly deep cleans of sites put in place to address infection prevention concerns
  • Approved increased investment for Freedom to Speak Up function
  • Established women’s staff network and programme addressing sexual safety
  • Full governance review underway by NHS England specialists.

Professor Sir Keith Willett, Trust Chair, said: “Since joining SCAS in the Spring, I have seen the enormous dedication and pride across all our teams. Their commitment to providing the best possible care to patients throughout the pandemic and during the continued pressure on the NHS has been outstanding. I am reassured this commitment has been recognised in the CQC’s report; and is also being applied to addressing their concerns.

“This rating is a huge disappointment to everyone. The board takes responsibility for that and we will work with colleagues across the Trust and our partners to put things right. In doing so I’m confident SCAS will become a better Trust than it has ever been, both for our patients, staff and volunteers.”

Alongside their concerns the CQC inspectors say:

  • Frontline staff were working hard to deliver compassionate care to people with whom they had contact. They were proud of their work and how they had managed throughout the pandemic.
  • We saw and heard about examples where staff had been particularly kind and ‘gone the extra mile’ to meet the needs of patients and their families.
  • There were numerous examples of innovative practice that supported people getting the right care, in the right place.

What did the CQC inspection cover?

The inspection, in April 2022, covered the CQC’s well-led domain and the Emergency Operations Centre and Urgent and Emergency Care services. Patient Transport Services and 111 were not inspected. The domains for effective, caring and productive use of resources retained their rating of good. Responsiveness was rated as requires improvement. The Safety and Well-led domains were rated inadequate.

The key areas the CQC say must be improved urgently include:

  • Safeguarding – resourcing, levels of training and how we report and deal with safeguarding concerns
  • Acting on staff concerns – taking concerns seriously and acting to address them
  • Serious incident management – reporting and sharing learning from incidents. Spotting trends and acting to reduce future risks.
  • Risk management – making sure the Board and others are fully sighted on risks and properly managing them.
  • Improving policies and procedures on Duty of Candour, the Mental Health Capacity Act, and medicines management are also highlighted as must dos.

The full CQC report is available at South Central Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust – Overview – Care Quality Commission (cqc.org.uk)