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Thursday, 08 November 2018

South East Ambulance Trust to remain in special measures despite improvements

Written by Ben Mitchell

South East Coast Ambulance Service is to remain in special measures despite showing improvements in care, according to a report by the Care Quality Commission (CQC).

A team of inspectors from CQC visited the service which covers Kent, Surrey and Sussex between July and September 2018 to check the quality of emergency operations centres, emergency and urgent care, resilience as well as overall management.

The review comes after the Trust was previously rated inadequate following inspections in 2016 and 2017 and which has now been upgraded to requires improvement.

A CQC spokesman said: "The inspection found that the new leadership team had been tackling challenges facing the Trust with compassion and energy.

"But although some areas had improved it was too early at this stage to judge if the improvements were fully embedded or sustainable."

The CQC spokesman said that although staff were well-motivated, "there were staff shortages across both the emergency operations centre and emergency and urgent care core services - this had an impact on both staff and patient safety".

The spokesman added: "On emergency calls, the Trust was above the national average for category 1 and 2 response times, for people with life-threatening injuries.

"However, some patients classified as category 3 or 4 (people who have fallen and long lying patients) were at an increased risk as a result of experiencing long delays.

"Staff did not always report this through the incident reporting system. However, inspectors raised this with the Trust which took immediate action to audit and improve incident reporting."

Professor Ted Baker CQC chief inspector of hospitals said: "Two years ago we found significant concerns about the performance of South East Coast Ambulance Service (SECAmb), with both staff and patients let down by their leadership.

"It is a service that almost five million people depend on, so I am pleased to report that there were signs of change across South East Coast Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust and this has led to an improvement in the overall rating.

"It is clear that this board understand the importance of a culture that supports and values staff.

"Although there has been progress in addressing the immediate issues, we felt that it is still too early to judge their effectiveness and for that reason I believe the trust should remain in special measures for now."

Daren Mochrie, chief executive of SECAmb, said: "I am pleased that the CQC have found a significant number of improvements since their last inspection and I am confident that the Trust is on the right path to make further progress.

"We are aware that there remains work to be done and this has already been taking place since the inspection, prior to the publication of the CQC's report.

"I know that right across the Trust, staff are committed to further improve the services we provide to our patients.

"I welcome last month's increased funding decision by our commissioners, which will ensure that we can continue to make improvements and that we have the future capacity to deliver the service our communities rightly expect and deserve in the years to come."

Copyright (c) Press Association Ltd. 2018, All Rights Reserved. Picture (c) Peter Byrne / PA Wire.