North West Ambulance Service has been rated as ‘good’ following its latest Care Quality Commission (CQC) inspection, after receiving ‘requires improvement’ two years ago.
The most recent inspection took place in June 2018 and resulted in an overall rating of ‘good’ as well as ‘good’ ratings for three of the trust’s core services; urgent and emergency care, emergency operations centers and resilience teams.
CQC saw polite, caring and respectful frontline ambulance staff, holding the hands of patients who were scared and acting with compassion and respect towards patients. All ambulance staff said they were proud of their profession and CQC said this was reflected in them providing good quality care.
Outstanding practice was noted where community specialist paramedics worked as members of multidisciplinary teams with community nurses, mental health nurses, teachers and in care homes on preventative measures aimed at reducing the number of admittances to emergency departments.
An internal educational publication for clinical staff and a health and wellbeing programme were found to be outstanding practice too.
CQC said that highly effective working relationships with partner agencies such as the police and fire were outstanding in the trust’s resilience service. This service incorporates two of England’s dedicated hazardous area response teams which comprise of paramedics with special training to provide care in the event of a major incident such as a terrorist attack.
In the emergency operations centres, CQC found that staff demonstrated compassion, kindness and respect towards callers and patients, including those in mental health crisis.
Alongside ratings for the trust’s core functions, CQC asked ‘is the service well-led, safe, effective, caring and responsive?’ NWAS was rated ‘good’ in all areas which means inspectors found evidence that safety and leadership at the trust had improved since its last inspection in 2016.
Improvements in the culture of the organisation were recognised with CQC finding that NWAS staff overall felt valued and listened to and had a staff voice in the organisation.
Interim Chief Executive, Michael Forrest, said: “We are delighted with a ‘good’ rating from the Care Quality Commission which we feel reflects the way we deliver services for patients and values the dedication of our hardworking staff who work under ever increasing demand.
“CQC said that our staff are proud to work for the organisation, and we’re extremely proud of them too! We are thrilled CQC noticed the high levels of care by our frontline staff, where patients were treated with respect and compassion.
“We are particularly happy with improved ‘well-led’ and ‘safe’ ratings, and that CQC noted staff were engaged with our strategic vision to do the right thing for every patient, every time.
“There’s still a lot of work to do to achieve our aim of becoming the best ambulance service in the country, but this rating assures us, and the people we serve in the North West, that we’re heading in the right direction.”
CQC said NWAS should improve systems to ensure vehicles are safe, clean and ready to go, ensure consistent performance measurement and monitoring and standardise care for patients with mental health issues.