Ambulance bosses said that they were committed to making the changes required to improve and to restore public confidence after a critical report by the Care Quality Commission (CQC).
The South East Coast Ambulance Service (Secamb) was placed in “special measures” yesterday after being rated inadequate by the CQC.
Ambulance trust chiefs said: “The report gives the trust a ‘good’ rating for its service being caring but highlights a number of areas of concern.
“The report judges the trust to be ‘inadequate’ overall and NHS Improvement has placed the trust into special measures.
“Secamb is committed to improving the quality of its service and would like to reassure the public that it has already been working hard to implement a number of important changes. The trust also welcomes the additional support placement into special measures offers.”
Acting chief executive Geraint Davies said: “While we are pleased that the dedication and care of our staff is highlighted as good in this report, we are sorry that we have not met the standards expected in a number of other areas.
“Following initial feedback from the CQC we have already been working on and implementing a number of improvements.
“I would like to reassure everyone we serve that I, along with my senior team, am committed and focused on ensuring these necessary changes continue.
“We are determined to implement the changes required to restore confidence in our service.”
“I would also like to take this opportunity to point to the enormous amount of excellent work undertaken every day by our staff across our region, often in challenging circumstances, to respond to and treat patients, be it responding to a major road collision or saving the life of a patient in cardiac arrest.”
SECAmb already has a recovery plan in place and has taken action across a number of areas to address concerns including those set out below.
• Although recruiting and retaining enough staff remains a significant issue for the trust, 60 new frontline staff have joined the trust since Friday 1 April – 18 paramedics and 42 emergency care support workers (ECSWs), with a further 289 staff (144 paramedics, 84 emergency care support workers and 61 associate practitioners) in the pipeline to join us by April 2017. Fifty three new emergency medical advisers (999 call-takers) have joined the trust already, with a further 40 in the pipeline for the remainder of the year. In NHS 111, 62 new health advisers (HAs) have started this year and a further 36 HAs are in the pipeline to join over coming months.
• We have strengthened our systems for the management of medicines and taken action to address the issues identified. We have audited the drug rooms in all stations. In all locations controlled drugs are stored in line with the legal requirements. Non-controlled medicines are stored in lockable cabinets.
• A detailed action plan focused on recruitment, retention, operational performance, staff engagement and external stakeholder engagement has been developed for NHS 111. As a result performance has steadily improved and in August surpassed performance trajectories, agreed with commissioners, on all measures.
• The trust has undertaken a trust-wide infection prevention and control (IPC) awareness campaign, rolled out extra training and recruited IPC leads in every operational area. To support this, all operational areas are undertaking regular spot-checks and audits to ensure that improved standards are maintained.
• The trust has worked hard to raise awareness of safeguarding processes to all staff, as well as creating a new process for ongoing monitoring of safeguarding referrals by operational staff. There are now new formal links in place between safeguarding and complaints to close any gaps between the two processes.
The report also highlights areas where the trust does well. These include
• The CQC reported how caring our staff were and how they behaved with kindness and understanding towards patients, even when faced with difficult situations.
• 111 call takers treated callers as individuals and treated them in a non-judgmental way
• The trust encourages staff to take on additional roles and responsibilities and provided training and support to enhance the paramedic roles. The specialist paramedics’ roles such as the critical care paramedic had expanded and developed.
Mr Davies said: “I fully recognise that this is a challenging time for the trust and accept that these are serious concerns which we must address.
“We understand the seriousness of placement into special measures but value the additional support that this offers us.
“We expect that the move will mean the work we have already started can continue at pace.”