England’s Chief Inspector of Hospitals has welcomed improvements at North West Ambulance Service NHS Trust following its latest inspection by the Care Quality Commission.
A team of inspectors from the Care Quality Commission visited North West Ambulance Service NHS Trust in June and July 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.
Inspectors found that work by the community paramedics was outstanding. They worked as members of a multidisciplinary team with community nurses, mental health nurses, teachers and in care homes, with the needs of the community at the forefront.
Staff were involved in initiatives ranged from helping mental health patients overcome fears of medical procedures to preventative measures aimed at reducing admissions to emergency departments by residents of care home residents.
The Chief Inspector of Hospitals, Professor Ted Baker, said:
“With 1.4 million calls per year there is constant pressure on the ambulance services in the North West to be there whenever we need them, at all times of the day. I am pleased to acknowledge the hard work and continuous improvement made by North West Ambulance Service NHS Trust to build upon the findings of our last inspection and have helped the trust improve its rating to Good.
“We found a patient-centred service where staff consistently showed compassion and respect to patients and callers during some very stressful and demanding situations.”
Full reports including the latest ratings are available at: https://www.cqc.org.uk/provider/RX7
In emergency and urgent care, there was also a new staffing structure that provided support to ambulance teams in responding to risk. Staff had access to enhanced clinical support when they needed it. Staff told inspectors they were always given time to make safeguarding referrals.
In the period until April 2018, the trust’s performance for dealing with Category 1 emergency calls had improved and was now better than the national average.
The trust’s resilience services (specialist teams who deal with extreme emergencies), have been rated Good overall. Managers ensured members of the team felt were valued. The Hazardous Area Operating Team (HART) and resilience service had developed highly effective working relationships with partner agencies. They took a lead in regular joint working days with the local group forums.
The emergency operations centre had looked at opportunities to learn from incidents and improve patient safety. There was a focus on continuous learning, including the use of pilot schemes to improve services.
The inspection found there was a strong leadership group in place with a positive culture based around the needs of people who used the service. Senior managers recognised that culture within some areas of the trust required further improvement.