New report acknowledges EMAS improvements, but rates ambulance service as still “requiring improvement”

East Midlands Ambulance Service has been rated at 'requires improvement' by CQC inspectors.
East Midlands Ambulance Service has been rated at 'requires improvement' by CQC inspectors.

A new CQC report on the East Midlands Ambulance Service (EMAS) will acknowledge that improvements have been made, but the service still ‘requires improvement’ in several key areas.

The Care Quality Commission (CQC) will publish its report tomorrow following its inspection carried out between 21 and 23 February 2017.

The CQC inspection looked at:

•The safety and effectiveness of Emergency and Urgent Care Services – rated ‘requires improvement’. This is progress on the ‘inadequate’ rating in May 2016.

•The safety and effectiveness of the Emergency Operations Centre – rated ‘requires improvement’.

•Safety, effectiveness and well led at provider level – rated ‘requires improvement’.

EMAS Chief Executive Richard Henderson said: “During its inspection the Care Quality Commission found that patients were overwhelmingly positive about our caring and compassionate staff across all levels and specialities of our service.

“Despite sustained challenges, the CQC recognised that we have made significant improvements since the November 2015 CQC inspection and I am pleased that the CQC has identified no new areas of concern, whilst identifying several areas of outstanding practice at EMAS.

“EMAS was not commissioned to meet the national performance targets during 2016/17, and therefore was not resourced to do so, however during the year we got to more people faster than ever before - 1,264 more Red 1 (the most life threatening) patients received a response within eight minutes compared to the previous year, and a further 9,950 more Red 2 patients within eight minutes.

“I am sorry that some patients experienced unacceptable waits. During the year we have invested in new ambulance vehicles and our electronic patient record system, recruited more staff to our frontline, and improved the clinical outcomes for many of our patients.”

Outstanding areas of practice identified by the CQC at their February 2017 inspection include:

•Caring, professional staff delivering compassionate, patient focused care despite challenges due to continued demand.

•Joint working arrangements with other NHS and blue-light organisations improving accessibility of patient services, particularly those located in remote areas and for patients who require mental health care.

•A Sepsis pilot in North and North East Lincolnshire is providing prompt lifesaving treatment.

•A highly effective recruitment campaign which has received a national award for equality and diversity in recruitment.

Areas for improvement include:

•Meet national and locally contracted response time targets for Red 1 and Red 2 categorised calls, and improve call taking response times.

•Continue to work with other providers and commissioners to reduce handover delays and improve timeliness of resource allocation in Emergency Operations Centre.

•Continued provision of sufficient clinical mentors for newly qualified staff.

•Ensure staff receive, read and understand information when there are updates to trust policies, procedures or clinical practice.

•Improve staff awareness of the legal duty of candour.

•All staff access and attend mandatory training with particular focus on compliance rates for equality and diversity and risk management training.

•Ensure all staff know how to report incidents and learning is shared and accessible.

EMAS Chairman Pauline Tagg added: “We know what needs to be done at EMAS and we continue to progress our improvement plans. Strains on the health and social care system directly impact on our ability to address all the concerns highlighted by the CQC; whilst not within our control to fix them, we continue to play our part.

“The CQC Quality Summit on 20 June gives us an opportunity together with regulators, commissioners and hospitals to identify further actions to improve care for our patients and staff.

“This includes what can be done in response to an independent strategic demand, capacity and price review that looked at the level of demand we have experienced, and the staff, vehicles and finance needed to be able to respond.”