Inspection and Regulation

01.02.17

CQC bumps Yorkshire ambulance trust to ‘good’ after impressive one-year progress

The CQC has upgraded its rating of Yorkshire Ambulance Service NHS Trust (YAS) to ‘good’ following substantial improvements in the trust over the past few years.

YAS, which covers almost 6,000sqm of terrain across Yorkshire and serves a population of over five million people, had been told to make improvements in certain areas in January 2015, when it was rated as ‘requires improvement’ overall.  

While YAS was found to be a caring trust in 2015, the CQC had told the trust that it needed to improve its safety, effectiveness and responsiveness of its service.

But during a follow-up focused inspection during September and October last year, inspectors found that it was clear the provider had “worked hard to address the issues we raised”.

Professor Sir Mike Richards, the CQC’s chief inspector of hospitals, who will soon be retiring, added: “We were impressed with the improvements we saw, and the staff at YAS should be pleased with their new rating.

“This rating amendment reflects the changes they have made; we saw a trust with a much improved approach to safety, and one that was addressing national staff shortages through a range of local initiatives.

“We saw improvements in the effectiveness of the service provided. At our previous inspection, YAS was one of the worst performing ambulance trusts for reviving patients after a cardiac arrest. However, data gathered as part of this inspection showed it to now be among the top performing. We also saw improved response times which were leading to better outcomes for patients.”

The CQC inspected a wide range of YAS services including its emergency operations centres, urgent and emergency care, patient transport services and resilience services such as its NHS 111 service.

Inspectors found that YAS had made progress in areas such as staff engagement and relationships with trade unions and more thorough equipment checks and maintenance. They also noted several areas of outstanding practice in the trust, such as integrated emergency care and the use of antibiotics when treating open bone fractures.

However, the CQC said that the provider must work to sustain these changes and still identified further concerns, particularly regarding the availability of “suitably skilled, qualified and experienced” staff and the cleanliness on its patient transport services, including ambulances.

“We are delighted with the outcome of the CQC’s recent inspection of our organisation,” said Rod Barnes, YAS chief executive. “It makes me immensely proud that the commitment of our staff and volunteers and the great care they provide have been formally recognised.

“We do recognise, however, that there is always more we can do to improve our services and the reports have highlighted a number of areas for attention.”

The trust noted that it will use the CQC’s feedback to help shape its future plans for development and raise its standards further.

Today’s rating closely follows a damning report from the National Audit Office last week, which found that ambulance services are struggling to cope with rising demand for urgent and emergency services as it urged CCGs to see these services as an integral part of the healthcare system.

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