You are here

Archived: Kent, Surrey and Sussex Air Ambulance Trust Headquarters

This service is now registered at a different address - see new profile

Inspection Summary

Overall summary & rating

Updated 28 June 2018

Kent, Surrey and Sussex Air Ambulance Trust is operated by a registered charity that provides emergency and urgent care treatment for patients in Surrey, Sussex, Kent and the surrounding areas. A team of doctors and paramedics deliver time-critical medical care. Clinical staff respond to patients predominately by helicopter but also use a response vehicle in the event the crew cannot deploy by air.

We inspected this service using our comprehensive inspection methodology. We carried out the inspection on 19 and 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 urgent and emergency 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:

  • People were protected by a strong comprehensive safety system, and a focus on openness, transparency and learning when things went wrong. All staff we spoke with were open and transparent, and fully committed to reporting incidents and near misses.

  • Staff maintained standards of cleanliness and hygiene throughout the areas where medical care took place and there were reliable systems to protect people from infections. In particular, staff effectively maintained standards of cleanliness and hygiene when decontaminating uniforms.

  • The service ensured that medicines were appropriately and safely ordered, stored, administered and disposed of and all medicines were secured, in date and accurately recorded. There was clear guidance on medication use.

  • The station environment was properly designed and fit for purpose. All vehicles and storerooms were visibly clean and tidy. The service had access to advanced technical equipment, which was safely and securely stored.

  • Comprehensive risk assessments were carried out in line with service policy and national guidance and staff identified and responded appropriately to the changing risks to people who used the services.

  • Staffing levels were planned, implemented and reviewed to keep people safe at all times. Dual roles meant any staff shortages were responded to quickly and adequately and staff had adequate breaks between shifts.

  • People’s care and treatment was planned and delivered in line with current evidence-based guidance, standards, best practice and legislation. Standard operating procedures reflected up to date and relevant legislation and evidence based guidance.

  • Information about people’s care and treatment, and their outcomes, was routinely collected and monitored. This follow up information was used to improve care.

  • Staff had the right qualifications, skills, knowledge and experience to do their job. The learning needs of staff were identified and training was put in place to meet those learning needs.

  • When people received care from a range of different staff, teams or services, this was coordinated and there were agreed care pathways with other providers to ensure patients were treated in a way to achieve the best outcome.

  • Staff worked collaboratively to understand and meet the range and complexity of people’s needs. All staff, including those in different teams and services were involved in delivering care and treatment.

  • Feedback from people, who used the service, was continually positive and showed staff had demonstrated encouraging, supportive and compassionate care.

  • There was a strong, visible, person-centred culture. Staff we spoke with were highly motivated and inspired to offer care that was kind and promoted people’s dignity.

  • Staff understood the impact that a patient’s care, treatment or condition had on their wellbeing both emotionally and socially and family and relatives were supported during distressing events.

  • Information about the needs of the local population was used to inform how services were planned and delivered.

  • Staff were competent and understood the importance of taking into account the differing needs of patients. Staff had taken part in a variety of published research projects to respond to the needs of patients.

  • The service had an effective rapid dispatch process and dispatchers prioritised care and treatment for people with the most urgent needs using an effective tasking system.

  • Patients were enabled to make a complaint or raise concerns and were given the help and support they needed to make a complaint. Lessons were learned and action was taken as a result to improve quality of care.

  • The service had a clear vision with quality and safety the top priority. There was a robust and realistic strategy for achieving the vision and delivering good quality care.

  • There was an effective governance framework. The board and other levels of governance within the organisation functioned effectively and interacted with each other appropriately. Leaders and staff were focused and committed to continuous learning and improvement.

  • There was a positive culture throughout the service. Staff were proud of the organisation as a place to work and staff felt respected and valued. Leaders had the capacity, capability and experience to lead effectively and encouraged appreciative and supportive relationships between staff.

Amanda Stanford

Deputy Chief Inspector of Hospitals, on behalf of the Chief Inspector of Hospitals

Inspection areas


Updated 28 June 2018


Updated 28 June 2018


Updated 28 June 2018


Updated 28 June 2018


Updated 28 June 2018

Checks on specific services

Emergency and urgent care

Updated 28 June 2018

This service was a Helicopter Emergency Medical Service (HEMS) that provided 24-hour rapid emergency and urgent intervention, to the critically injured and severely ill patient. The service was well led with experienced and capable leaders who drove improvements in the service with a focus on providing the best possible care. The leaders promoted a positive staff culture and encouraged staff development. There was a clear proactive approach to seeking out and embedding new and more sustainable models of care to improve patient outcomes. Effective systems were in place to make sure patients received safe and high quality care and treatment at all times.