CQC says improvements still needed in East Midlands Ambulance Service

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East Midlands Ambulance Service still needs to improve in a number of areas, according to a report released by the Care Quality Commission.

Inspectors say EMAS will miss out on meeting the minimum standard for response times to life-threatening calls for the full year and added that more emergency vehicles needed to be made available at the start of shifts.

The findings of a CQC inspection inspection, which lasted two weeks from the end of January, were published today (Wednesday, April 9).

Four of the six areas inspected require improvement, the report says.

In response, a Northamptonshire MP says he hopes it will be a wake-up call for the trust.

The report identifies improvements made since the last visit in March 2013, alongside a number of areas of good practice. It acknowledges progress has been made by EMAS in a number of areas, including responses to less urgent calls, infection control and deep cleaning of vehicles.

Inspectors also noted that EMAS is taking reasonable steps to progress its improvement plans, and is happy that no further action needs to be taken by the CQC.

But Corby and East Northamptonshire MP Andy Sawford said he was disappointed the trust was still failing to meet the targets in terms of its response to life-threatening calls, something he described as an “absolutely crucial test that the public care about most of all”.

He said: “Clean vehicles and good complaints handling are welcome, but the truth is the trust is failing to meet four out of the six performance criteria, the most important of all being the ‘Care and welfare of people who use services’.

“I note that the inspectors call for urgent action and that they have escalated their concerns to the Trust Development Authority and I hope this will lead to the step change in performance that is needed.”

Mr Sawford added: “It is disappointing to see that the trust is not meeting standards on how they support workers and on staffing levels.

“The ambulance workers I meet are incredibly dedicated and hard working people. I know that they are doing their best but sadly, for a long time, they have had poor leadership and have been like lions led by donkeys.”

“I hope this inspection report is a wake-up call to everyone at the trust. I am prepared to help and support them to improve and will seek an urgent meeting with the chair and chief executive”.

However, Sue Noyes, the EMAS chief executive, said the findings of the report reflected that EMAS was well underway in delivering an organisation-wide improvement programme.

She said: “It praises us for many areas of care, such as cleanliness and infection-control, our handling of complaints, the professional, attentive nature of staff, and it acknowledges many improvements made since our last inspection.

“However, there are a number of areas where we know we need to improve. We are well underway with addressing these.

“We have recently launched our new staff career development and support programme, and continue to focus on ensuring more consistent availability of ambulances at the start of shifts, and on improving staff engagement, satisfaction and morale.

“I am confident that our improvement plans under the ‘Better Patient Care’ programme will meet the areas identified within the CQC report before the next inspection.

“In many areas we are already close to achieving the standards in full, but we know we still have a lot more to do. We are working very hard across the organisation to ensure that we meet our response targets and provide consistently better patient care, which is delivered by staff who are increasingly well-supported and appropriately developed.”

She has also thanked staff for their work in helping deliver improvements.