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)