East's ambulance service still requires improvement

31 July 2019, 06:37 | Updated: 31 July 2019, 06:40

East of England Ambulance

The East of England Ambulance Service has been told it must make improvements following an inspection by the Care Quality Commission.

The trust was rated as Requires Improvement overall as well as for whether its services were safe and effective following an inspection which took place in April and May this year.

It was rated as Inadequate for whether its services are well-led and remains rated Outstanding for whether its services were caring. It is rated as Good for whether its services are responsive.

While the trust’s overall rating has remain unchanged since CQC’s previous inspection in March 2018, the rating for whether services are well-led has changed from Requires Improvement to Inadequate and its rating for whether services are responsive has changed from Requires Improvement to Good.

CQC’s Chief Inspector of Hospitals, Professor Ted Baker, said:

“Our inspectors found that while some progress had continued at the East of England Ambulance Service NHS Trust, there were still a number of areas for concern where improvements were needed.

“We were particularly concerned that there had been significant turnover within the senior leadership team over the last 12 months. At the time of our inspection, key members of the board were in interim positions. We had concerns that the instability in the executive team could affect the trust’s ability to drive through necessary improvements.

There continued to be a mixed culture at the trust. Not all staff felt that concerns were listened to and recently implemented strategies and initiatives, developed to improve performance, governance and staff welfare, were yet to be embedded.

“The services still did not have enough staff to care for patients and keep them safe despite a focus on recruitment and retention.  

“People continued to wait too long for services and response times, although improved, were worse than the England average. While the quality of services had not declined - and there were signs of improvement in specific areas - there were continued areas of breaches in regulation, such as with the safe management of medicines. We have told the trust it must take act immediately to make those improvements.

“Despite this, we found that staff were overwhelmingly caring and dedicated to providing the best care they could. As a result the trust remains rated as Outstanding for whether the service it provides for people is caring.  We saw outstanding practice in terms of the trust’s ability to respond to major incidents, with teams recognised for their work by external organisations. This included a certificate of appreciation from the Chief Fire Officer for the trust’s HART team – the specialist team which deals with major incidents - which saved a fire officer’s life at the scene of a fire.

“We fed our findings back to the trust immediately after our inspection, citing the areas where improvements must be made. The trust leadership knows what action it must take and we will return to inspect and check on its progress with improvements.”