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Yorkshire Ambulance Service "requires improvement" in some areas

Yorkshire Ambulance Service "requires improvement" in some areas

Published at 12:05am 21st August 2015. (Updated at 5:25pm 24th August 2015)

Yorkshire Ambulance Service NHS Trust has been rated as 'caring’, but "requires improvement" in other areas.

The Care Quality Commission (CQC) inspection took place over four days in January and covered four core areas: the Emergency Operations Centre (EOC), Urgent and Emergency Care, Patient Transport Service (PTS) and Resilience.

It looked in detail at whether services were safe, effective, caring, responsive and well-led.

Chief Executive Rod Barnes said: "We are pleased that our services were consistently acknowledged as being caring, which is excellent news for our hard-working staff as this is fundamental to what we do.

"We are also pleased that the CQC recognised the many areas of good work going on within the Trust, including the international accreditation of our 999 call centre and some areas of outstanding practice such as our Restart a Heart initiative which trains thousands of children annually in essential life-saving skills, our work with volunteers and community first responders, our innovative mental health support within the EOC, as well as our green initiatives.

"The report recognises the challenges we and services nationally face in recruiting and training sufficient staff numbers to meet rising levels of demand and the pressures this places on existing staff and response times.

"However, we clearly recognise that we have more work to do in some areas. The CQC highlighted specific concerns about equipment and consumables in the Hazardous Area Response Team (HART) and these were addressed immediately during the inspection. The inspectors revisited the unit in January and found that the necessary action had been taken.

"The inspection took place nine months ago at the busiest time of year for us and at a time of unprecedented high demand."

Since then, the Trust says it has put in a lot of work to address the other issues raised on both the ‘must do’ and ‘should do’ areas, including:

  • Tightening up methods and monitoring for daily cleaning and implementing rigorous processes for deep cleaning, as well as highlighting individual responsibilities around the cleanliness of vehicles.
  • Reinforcing to all clinical staff the importance of being ‘bare below the elbows’, as well as increasing the rigour of hand hygiene audits.
  • Maintaining focus on mandatory training and raising compliance rates to 92%, with plans to further increase this.
  • Maintaining focus on staff appraisals, with monthly monitoring and reporting and follow-up of non-compliance. 

In addition, the Trust has: 

  • Appointed a permanent Chief Executive and Executive Director of Operations, bringing greater stability to the senior management team.
  • Focused heavily on improving engagement with staff and partners, both face-to-face and through increased use of digital technology.
  • Invested significantly in recruitment and training of staff as part of its long-term workforce plan.
  • Established a pilot for a ‘Make Ready’ cleaning system as part of its longer term estates strategy, which will employ a dedicated team to clean vehicles to ensure extremely high standards and free up clinical time to the direct benefit of patients.
  • Purchased 110 new vehicles for the Patient Transport Service, to improve efficiency and quality of environment for patients.
  • Strengthened risk management and internal inspection processes to provide greater assurance that standards are maintained on a consistent basis.

Rod Barnes added: "Yorkshire Ambulance Service is committed to delivering high-quality care and to continuously improving the services we provide. I am very pleased that the inspection report recognises the caring and compassionate service provided by our staff on a day-to-day basis. Clinically, we also score the highest of any ambulance trust in the UK on a number of key Ambulance Quality Indicators.

"We accept, though, that the report raises a number of issues that we need to tackle. Most of these were issues that we were aware of as a Trust and were already acting to address before the inspection. We have continued to make progress in all areas over recent months and have a clear plan of action to maintain this improvement. 

"We are pleased that the report also recognises that there are national issues affecting all ambulance services that have had an important impact on our ability to deliver as we aim to. Rises in demand and recruiting when there is a national shortage of qualified paramedics not only affects Yorkshire but the UK as a whole, and we are working both locally and in partnership with other ambulance services to improve this situation.”