Outstanding Work by Paramedics Helps North West Ambulance Service NHS Trust Achieve Good CQC Rating

North West Ambulance Service NHS Trust has been rated as ‘good’ following its latest inspection from the healthcare regulator, Care Quality Commission (CQC), after receiving ‘requires improvement’ during its first official inspection two years ago.

The improved rating comes after an inspection of the trust 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 centres and resilience teams. The service’s patient transport service and NHS 111 service were not inspected so their rating remains ‘good’.

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.

Highlights from the inspection include the observation by CQC of polite, caring and respectful frontline ambulance staff, holding the hands of patients who were scared and acting with compassion and respect towards patients. In the emergency operations centres, CQC saw that staff demonstrated compassion, kindness and respect towards callers and patients, including those in mental health crisis.

Ambulance staff demonstrated a genuine desire to help people in need and understood the anxieties of patients and families who received treatment or were in ambulances to support loved ones.

CQC saw clear processes in place so that staff looked after each other’s welfare too. There was a strong emphasis on the safety and wellbeing of staff both in operational management and at senior management level.

All staff CQC spoke to said they were proud of their profession and felt that this was reflected in them providing good quality care.

Improvements in the culture of the organisation were recognised with CQC finding that NWAS staff overall felt valued and listened to and had a voice in the organisation. This was helped by the introduction of senior paramedic team leaders (SPTLs) to support and advise ambulance crews.

Clinical staff were found to be well supported to deliver effective care and treatment. Whilst at an incident they could contact the trust’s clinical support hub using their mobiles, or speak to an advanced paramedic on their personal radios, or through the control rooms.

CQC also found the service follows evidence based practice and provided safe care and treatment. Innovation was encouraged and staff were supported to join national improvement groups to influence changes in protocols, processes, equipment and training.

Outstanding practice was noted where community specialist paramedics worked as members of multidisciplinary teams with community nurses, mental health nurses, doctors and teachers amongst others, and in care homes on preventative measures aimed at reducing the number of admittances to emergency departments.

An internal educational publication for clinical staff called ‘CLEAR Vision’ and the trust’s ‘Invest in Yourself’ 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 function which 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.

Good levels of cleanliness, hygiene and infection prevention and control in ambulance stations and on vehicles were witnessed too.

You can view the full report at: www.nwas.nhs.uk/cqc