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The Care Quality Commission (CQC) has welcomed improvements at South East Coast Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust, but leaves the trust in special measures.
Following planned inspections of the trust in July and August 2018, the inspectorate has rated South East Coast Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust (SECAmb) as ‘Requires Improvement’ overall, a level up from its previous rating. However, the CQC has recommended to NHS Improvement that the trust remains in special measures while the improvements made are further embedded throughout the organisation.
Despite finding motivated staff who treat patients with compassion, dignity and respect, the report stressed staff shortages across both the emergency operations centre and emergency and urgent care core services, having an impact on both staff and patient safety, with the CQC also finding recruitment and retention problems.
The trust, which covers Kent, Sussex, Surrey and North East Hampshire, is now rated ‘Good’ for being caring and ‘Requires Improvement’ for being safe, effective, well-led and responsive to people’s needs.
Daren Mochrie, SECAmb chief executive, 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.”
Ted Baker, CQC Chief Inspector of Hospitals, said: “Two years ago we found significant concerns about the performance of the ambulance service South East Coast Ambulance Service, with both staff and patients let down by their leadership. It 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. There remain number of concerns that we found during the inspection that the trust have addressed since then, or provided us with further assurance. The trust must continue the good work, and focus on those areas where we have identified the need for further improvement.”