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Inspection carried out on 20 March 2018

During an inspection to make sure that the improvements required had been made

Great North Air Ambulance Service is operated by Great North Air Ambulance Service. The Great North Air Ambulance Service is a charity and provides emergency and urgent care for patients across Northern and North East England. A team of doctors and paramedics deliver medical care. Clinical staff travel by helicopter air ambulance or a rapid response vehicle (RRV).

We inspected this service using our comprehensive inspection methodology. We carried out the announced inspection on 20 March 2018.

To get to the heart of patients’ experiences of care and treatment, we ask the same five questions of all services: are they safe, effective, caring, responsive to people's needs, and well-led?

Throughout the inspection, we took account of what people told us and how the provider understood and complied with the Mental Capacity Act 2005.

The main service provided by this service was emergency and urgent care.

Services we do not rate

We regulate independent ambulance services but we do not currently have a legal duty to rate them. We highlight good practice and issues that service providers need to improve and take regulatory action as necessary.

We found the following areas of good practice:

  • The service was proactively engaged with initiatives to enhance patient care and develop and improve services. Staff were actively involved in developing, leading, and conducting pilot projects, research projects, audits, and teaching and training programmes. This included developing and facilitating the Pre-hospital Emergency Medicine Crew Course (PHEMCC), developing training for the police and mountain rescue, conducting a study of how the involvement of the air ambulance affected outcomes for patients, and involvement with a pilot project to develop the service for the use of blood products.
  • The service had invested in a tailor-made computer system which recorded all patient contact and treatment given. The system could be used to support the auditing of clinical outcomes in order to monitor and improve service provision.
  • There were processes to report, record, investigate and share learning from adverse events and serious incidents.
  • There were systems in place to safeguard adults and children from abuse.
  • Vehicles and equipment were appropriately serviced and maintained.
  • Patients and staff were protected against healthcare associated infections.
  • There were effective processes for medicines management.
  • Patient care was evidence based and informed by best practice guidance.
  • Staff described treating patients and relatives with compassion, dignity, and respect. Patient feedback about the service was positive.
  • The service was designed to be responsive to patient needs.
  • There were processes in place to receive, investigate, and respond to complaints.
  • There was a clear leadership structure and comprehensive governance framework in place.
  • The culture within the service was supportive. High quality patient care and continued service development and improvement was encouraged and supported by senior leaders.

However, we also found the following issues that the service provider needs to improve:

  • Risk registers did not include clear ownership of mitigating actions and dates that risk registers were reviewed.
  • Not all mandatory training was up to date.
  • The provider had not submitted a Workforce Race Equality Standard Report.

Following this inspection, we told the provider that it should make improvements, even though a regulation had not been breached, to help the service improve.

Ellen Armistead

Deputy Chief Inspector of Hospitals

Inspection carried out on 4 November 2013

During a routine inspection

Due to the nature of the service provided by the air ambulance of transporting time-critically injured or ill patients to specialist trauma hospitals, Great North Air Ambulance Service (GNAAS) cannot seek the views of patients using the service at the time. The service does follow up on patient progress with the hospitals concerned and receives many thank-you cards and messages from people and their families who have used the air ambulance. The website for the Great North Air Ambulance Service also shows how this service which is entirely funded from public donations, has helped many people receive high quality pre-hospital critical care.

Medicines were securely stored and monitored and there were systems in place to ensure they were checked regularly.

Health and safety at the service was monitored effectively and risk assessments and checks were in place to reduce the risk of any incident or accident.

The service worked well with other providers to ensure the safe and effective transfer of patients and information.

The provider had quality assurance systems to ensure the safety and wellbeing of staff and patients and also reviewed the effectiveness of the service on a regular basis.

Inspection carried out on 20 December 2012

During a routine inspection

Due to the nature of the service provided by the air ambulance of transporting time-critically injured or ill patients to specialist trauma hospitals, Great North Air Ambulance Service (GNAAS) cannot seek the views of patients using the service at the time. The service does follow up on patient progress with the hospitals concerned and receives many thank-you cards and messages from people and their families who have used the air ambulance. The website for the Great North Air Ambulance Service also shows how this service which is entirely funded from public donations, has helped many people receive high quality pre-hospital critical care.

We found robust systems in place for control of infection and hygiene management as well as policies and procedures for this and the recruitment of staff.

Inspection carried out on 6 December 2011

During a routine inspection

Due to the nature of the service provided by the air ambulance of transporting time-critically injured or ill patients to specialist trauma hospitals, Great North Air Ambulance Service (GNAAS) cannot seek the views of patients using the service at the time. The service does follow up on patient progress with the hospitals concerned and receives many thank-you cards and messages from people and their families who have used the air ambulance. The website for the Great North Air Ambulance Service also shows how this service which is entirely funded from public donations, has helped many people receive high quality pre-hospital critical care.