Northampton's ambulance service makes progress but maintains 'requires improvement' amid bullying claims

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.

Inspectors say East Midlands Ambulance Service 'requires improvement' amid bullying and harassment claims but is on the way to making significant improvements.

East Midlands Ambulance Service NHS Trust was rated as 'requires improvement' back in 2015 when checks were made into services, including response times falling short of the national target.

Now a new report has been published today (13 June) following an inspection by the Care Quality Commission (CQC) in February 21, 22 and 23 and on March 3 to follow up on whether improvements have been made.

CQC’s chief inspector of hospitals, professor Sir Mike Richards, spoke of the first inspection

He said: “We were concerned that response times for some identified calls fell short of the national target which meant patients were not receiving care as quickly as they should. There were variable standards of incident investigation and a lack of learning at an organisational level in relation to those incidents.

“Staff did not always know their responsibilities with regard to the Duty of Candour regulation. We found pockets of concern about potential bullying and harassment of staff, and instances where policies and procedures relating to staff wellbeing were not followed. The trust was also not compliant with the requirements of the Fit and Proper Persons regulation.

“We have told the trust where further work is required to ensure patients receive the service they should be able to expect. The trust leadership knows what it needs to do to bring about improvement and our inspectors will return at a later date to check on what progress has been made.”

Following the November investigation, the trust was told to make significant improvements and ensure there were sufficient staff and vehicles available as well as staff receiving appropriate training, support and appraisal to carry out their roles.

These improvements had been made when CQC next inspected.

The watchdog looked at specific areas to check on whether improvements had been made and made checks into safety and effectiveness of the Emergency and Urgent Care Services, Emergency Operations Centres and whether the service provided was safe, effective and well-led.

While the overall rating for the trust remains unchanged, inspectors found a number of significant improvements had been made.

He added: "On our return to East Midlands Ambulance Service NHS Trust our inspectors found significant improvements had been made, and there were a number of areas of outstanding practice, but we still had some concerns.

"We found action had been taken to increase the number of frontline staff, standards of cleanliness had improved and the majority of equipment and vehicle checks were appropriately completed. The number of vehicles delivering emergency and urgent care services had increased and potential risks to the service were anticipated and planned for.

“There had been improvements in training and development opportunities and there was a high level of confidence in and respect for the acting chief executive. Staff were caring, professional, compassionate and patient focussed in challenging circumstances."