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10.05.16

East Midlands Ambulance Trust rated ‘inadequate’ for safety

A CQC inspection has rated East Midlands Ambulance Trust as inadequate for safety and requiring improvement overall.

The inspection found that staffing levels were below the numbers needed for safety and there were also concerns about the abilities of staff, with mandatory and statutory training rates not meeting the trust’s own targets.

Between September 2014 and August 2015, there were 54 serious incidents, although 95% were rated as causing no or low harm. However, six incidents were recorded as lacking available resources or delayed response times which could potentially have contributed to patient deaths.

Professor Sir Mike Richards, CQC’s chief inspector of hospitals, said: “Our inspectors found that a number of improvements were needed at East Midlands Ambulance Service NHS Trust.

“Our main concerns surrounded whether services were protecting people from the risk of avoidable harm at the trust. There was an unrelenting demand for emergency services combined with a lack of staff and resources to meet the need. We found that, while people were cared for and treated well, there were insufficient staff and a lack of appropriate skill mix to meet the needs of patients in a timely manner.

“We found that staff were passionate about their jobs and committed to providing high quality, safe care for patients, but they also openly recognised they faced challenges and morale was low.   

“Since our inspection we have been monitoring the trust and working closely with NHS Improvement and other stakeholders, such as NHS England. 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.”  

The report also raises safety concerns about lengthy and potentially dangerous delays in patient reception, standards of cleanliness, shortages of vehicles, and safe management of medicines and patient records.

The CQC rated the trust as requiring improvement for leadership, finding frontline leadership lacked the capacity and sometimes the experience or knowledge to lead effectively.

Staff also said they did not feel valued or respected and sometimes experienced bullying and harassment, which were highlighted as problems across the NHS in the latest staff survey.

The trust also received a requiring improvement rating for effectiveness, finding that it consistently missed national targets on response times to Red One and Red Two calls.

However, the CQC did rate the trust as good for being caring and responsive and highlighted areas of outstanding practice, including non-clinical staff saving lives in “extremely difficult and stressful situations” and projects to improve communication with staff about minor changes and mental health and heart attack care.

The CQC recommended a number of actions the trust must take, including improving levels of staff training and ensuring that all incidents are properly reported, investigated and learned from.

NHE contacted East Midlands Ambulance Service NHS Trust for a statement but received no response at the time of publication.

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