11 December 2014 - Clean bill of health for NWAS

The North West Ambulance Service NHS Trust (NWAS) has received a positive report from the Care Quality Commission (CQC) following an inspection in August which was the first of its kind.

The Trust volunteered to be the first ambulance service in the country to undergo the new styled inspections specially tailored for ambulance services, and was pleased to receive a very encouraging report when the findings were announced this week.

Four CQC teams comprising over 60 inspectors undertook a thorough and extensive review of the Trust’s operation and services, interviewing patients and staff as well as visiting stations, control rooms and speaking to other NHS Trusts, local Healthwatch and other partners about their working relationship with NWAS. 

Chief Executive, Bob Williams comments: “I am extremely proud of the staff who gave honest accounts of their working life and clearly demonstrated that the Trust’s main objective is the care of patients.  Providing care to a high standard with compassion and empathy is what an NHS organisation is all about and it is very heartening to hear that the CQC has observed this in action in the North West.”

Bob added:  “The Board and I were keen to be the first ambulance service to undergo this type of inspection and find out from an independent body what we are doing well and where we need to focus our future attention.  It is fantastic to receive this external endorsement and recognition of best practice as well as an understanding of the challenges we face which we will use to underpin our improvement plans.

The main themes of the inspection looked at whether NWAS was safe, effective, caring  and responsive to patients’ needs and well led.  As this was a pilot inspection, the Trust will not receive a rating. However as a result of their findings, the CQC will be recommending to Monitor that the Trust can go forward with its Foundation Trust application.

The CQC has now published its key findings and report which can be found on www.cqc.org.uk  and include:

  • Staff treated patients and their families and carers in a caring manner, with dignity and respect, and valued them as individuals. The CQC observed ‘exemplary care being given across the whole Trust’
  • The Service is clinically led and focuses on patients and outcomes
  • The Trust’s leadership had a clear vision which was freely quoted by staff and is underpinned by a strategy – the Trust’s ‘Good to Great’ five year plan
  • There was a commitment to the Patient Transport Service (PTS) and recognition that it was part of the Trust’s future plans
  • The Trust has systems, processes and practices in place to keep people from harm

As well as commending the Trust, the CQC has also made some recommendations where processes or operations can be improved and these will form part of an action plan which the Trust must submit and then complete over the coming months.

Actions in the plan include:

  •  Reviewing the process for pre-alerting hospitals to make sure communication is sufficient and the receiving hospital is fully aware of the patient’s condition
  • Improve the identifying and recording of incidents within call centres
  • Make sure dosimeters (devices that measure radiation) on vehicles are in full working order
  • Improve access to clinical supervision for all clinical staff
  • Ensure all staff are receiving mandatory training necessary for their role
  • Ensure all staff are consistently receiving appraisals

North West Ambulance Service, Chairman, Mary Whyham comments: “It’s wonderful to see such a positive report and this is a result of the hard work and commitment that our staff demonstrate on a daily basis.

“We know there are still further improvements to be made and we will work closely with our patients, staff and NHS partners to continue to deliver safe and qualitative services.   As cited in our five year plan, it is our intention to make this good organisation into a great one.”