CQC inspectors have told North East Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust that improvements are needed following an inspection in September.
The inspection was carried out as part of CQC’s programme of ongoing checks on the safety and quality of healthcare services.
CQC inspected emergency and urgent care, the emergency operations centre and the NHS 111 service. A well-led inspection was also carried out focusing on the leadership of the trust.
Following this inspection, the trust was issued with a warning notice due to concerns found regarding medicines management within urgent and emergency care and the culture and governance systems within the organisation. Significant improvements were needed to reduce risks to patients.
Following the inspection:
Sarah Dronsfield, CQC’s deputy director of operations in the north, said:
“When we inspected North East Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust, we found a deterioration in the services being provided, especially in urgent and emergency care where this had potential for people to be placed at risk of harm.
“It was particularly concerning that staff didn’t always have access to critical medicines needed to treat patients and some crews didn’t have time to complete vehicle medicine checks, resulting in treatment delays.
“Staff told us they frequently responded to emergencies without the sufficient quantities of standard medicines they needed to treat common or life-threatening conditions, including morphine and seizure medication.
“In addition, we were concerned the trust was not always thoroughly investigating incidents and may have made decisions based on limited information, reducing the ability to identify learning and prevent reoccurrence.
“Although staff were focused on the needs of patients receiving care, they did not always feel respected, supported and valued.
“We did, however, also see some positive areas of work. Staff took time to interact with patients in a respectful and considerate way and they maintained their dignity throughout their journey and when being transferred to hospital.
“Through engagement with the trust we know they have taken our concerns seriously and have put in measures to address our findings. We are mindful that ambulance services are operating under increased pressure and we are pleased the trust is keen to make the necessary improvements.
“We will continue to monitor the trust closely to ensure the necessary improvements are made to keep people safe, and we will expect to see sustainable improvements the next time we inspect.”
Inspectors found the following during this inspection:
The North East Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust (NEAS) provides an emergency ambulance service 24 hours a day, 365 days a year across the North East of England.