Sussex ambulance service taken out of special measures

SECAmb: services leaves special measures

The NHS ambulance service in Sussex, Surrey and Kent is officially getting better, and has been lifted out of special measures to help it improve.

South East Coast Ambulance Service (SECAmb) management said today (Thursday, 15) it welcomes the move by NHS Improvement, after a new inspection of the ambulance service’s performance.

Inspectors from the Care Quality Commission (CQC) examined SECAmb in June and July this year, and have published their rating of “Good” overall.

It follows years of poorer ratings, including “Inadequate” from 2016–17, and “Requires Improvement” in 2018.

Details of the inspection included a rating of “Outstanding” for the core ambulance service for emergency and urgent care, and work to reduce hospital handover times.

The CQC said, to arrive at its latest rating, its staff examined a number of areas:

  • the quality of core services
  • emergency operations centres
  • emergency and urgent care
  • SECAmb’s out-of-hours and NHS 111 services

Additionally, they wanted to answer what they called a “key question”: is the trust behind the ambulance service well-led?

As the report was released, England’s Chief Inspector of Hospitals, Professor Ted Baker, said:

“I am pleased to find South East Coast Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust has made excellent progress.

“The trust has embedded the improvements our inspectors saw at our last inspection in November 2018, and has also met the requirements we asked for.

“The credit must go to the hard work and commitment of the staff and the current leadership team. I congratulate them on their achievements.

“The overall rating of Good reflects a substantial improvement in the quality of services at the trust, and I am happy to recommend that it is removed from special measures.”

The CQC also said they heard from SECAmb staff about improvements made and steps taken by managers at all levels to address bullying.

It follows earlier inspections by the watchdog, which said it had reported on a “culture of bullying and harassment.”

According to the latest report, staff now felt more confident to speak up if they observed behaviours that did not reflect what the trust calls its “values”.

The watchdog particularly noted a new dispatch system that helped patients who had fallen.

It gave a clearer indication of the location and age of the person, and whether or not they had someone with them to give support.

SECAmb’s acting chief executive, Dr. Fionna Moore, said:

“This positive report is testament to the huge amount of work that has been ongoing at SECAmb for the past couple of years.

“I am delighted, but not surprised, that staff have been recognised for the fantastic care they provide to patients, and pleased that the big improvements we have made as a Trust during the past couple of years have been acknowledged.”

The chair of the South East Coast Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust added:

“Every single member of staff and our volunteers contribute to the assessment made by the CQC, and everyone should be very proud of what has been achieved.

“We are very aware that there remains a lot of hard work ahead, and we will expect to deliver even higher standards in the years to come.”