• Ambulance service

Harley Street Ambulance Service

Overall: Good read more about inspection ratings

Unit 8, London Group Business Park, 715 North Circular Road, London, NW2 7AQ (020) 8208 4440

Provided and run by:
Harley Street Ambulance Service Limited

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Background to this inspection

Updated 17 May 2019

Harley Street Ambulance Service (HSAS) is an independent ambulance service operated by Harley Street Ambulance Service Limited. The service which opened in 1982 is based in North West London and transports patients across the whole of the United Kingdom working across different boroughs and populations.

The service has six vehicles used for both patient transport services (PTS) and emergency and urgent care (EUC) services. EUC patient transfers are between hospitals. The majority of HSAS’s work is PTS (80%) with EUC making up a small part of the service (20%). Arrangements for the provision of PTS and EUC were mostly the same and because of this we reported most of our findings for EUC in the PTS report.

HSAS registered with the Care Quality Commission on 13 May 2011. The registered manager has been in post since July 2011.

When we inspected the service in July and November 2016 we did not have the statutory power to rate it. However, in 2016 we told the service that it must make improvements in relation to the safe management of medicines, keeping patients’ information safe, and risk management within the service. We issued requirement notices in relation to those three areas of concern. Following the 2016 inspection the provider made improvements and provided an action plan to address our concerns.

Overall inspection

Good

Updated 17 May 2019

Harley Street Ambulance Service is operated by Harley Street Ambulance Service Limited. The service was registered with the Care Quality Commission (CQC) on 13 May 2011. The service provides patient transport services (PTS) and emergency and urgent care (EUC) services. EUC patient transfers are between hospitals. The provider is registered for the regulated activities: transport services, triage and medical advice provided remotely and treatment of disease, disorder and injury.

Harley Street Ambulance Service (HSAS) operates as a subcontractor to main contractors (identified as commissioners in this report). The main contractors who commission services from HSAS liaise directly with NHS providers. A small part of its work is private and for this work HSAS liaises directly with the private hospitals or private organisations.

HSAS transports patients (adults and children) across the whole of the United Kingdom and works across different boroughs and populations.

The service has six ambulances equipped for and used for both PTS and EUC.

We carried out an unannounced inspection of both the PTS and EUC core services using our comprehensive inspection methodology on 29 and 30 January 2019.

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 HSAS was PTS. Where our findings on EUC – for example, management arrangements – also apply to PTS, we do not repeat the information but cross-refer to the PTS core service.

We last inspected this service in July and November 2016 but at the time we did not have the legal duty to rate independent ambulance services. However, following this inspection we rated the service good for both core services.

We rated this service good overall because:

  • Staff treated patients and relatives with compassion, kindness, dignity and respect.

  • The provider had systems, processes, and practices to keep people safe and safeguard them from abuse. Staff were aware of and knowledgeable about these processes.

  • The service provided mandatory training in key skills to all staff and made sure everyone completed it.

  • Staff reported a positive working culture within the service.

  • The service kept patient data safe and secure and this was an improvement from the previous inspection in 2016.

  • The service had enough staff, with the right qualifications and skills, training and experience to deliver effective care, support and treatment.

  • We observed effective multidisciplinary working between HSAS staff and staff at the various hospitals they worked with.

  • Staff understood the relevant consent and decision-making requirements of guidance and legislation including the Mental Capacity Act 2005.

  • There were effective recruitment and training processes to ensure staff were appropriately qualified and trained to deliver good quality care.

  • Policies and procedures were in date and reviewed in line with set review dates.

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

  • Only 50% of staff had received an appraisal at the time of our inspection.

  • The provider did not have access to translation services which meant they relied on staff or relatives who spoke the same language to communicate with patients.

  • There were no regular staff meetings as part of the service’s governance arrangements.

  • The provider did not have systems and processes to ensure that ambulance staff declared working arrangements outside of the service and monitor this to make sure staff were not working excessive hours that may adversely impact on the care being provided.

  • There was limited formal engagement with staff and not all staff were aware of the service’s vision, strategy or values.

  • Commissioners did not always make the service aware of patients’ pre-existing conditions or risks and the provider did not have a policy or system to manage this.

Following this inspection, we told the provider that it should make some improvements, even though a regulation had not been breached, to help the service improve. Details are at the end of the report.

Nigel Acheson

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

Patient transport services

Good

Updated 17 May 2019

The main service was patient transport services (PTS) which made up 80% of the provider’s work. The provider had six ambulances used for both PTS and emergency and urgent care (EUC). The arrangements for PTS and EUC were the same. Therefore, we have reported most of our findings for EUC in the relevant PTS sections of the report.

We rated PTS as good overall because staff treated patients and relatives with compassion, kindness, dignity and respect, there were systems processes, and practices to keep people safe and safeguard them from abuse, there was 100% compliance with mandatory training, policies and procedures were in date and reviewed in line with set review dates, staff reported a positive working culture, and we observed effective multidisciplinary working between HSAS staff and staff at the various hospitals they worked with.

Emergency and urgent care

Good

Updated 17 May 2019

Emergency and Urgent Care (EUC) services were a small proportion of activity by the provider making up 20% of the work they carried out. EUC services included high dependency transfers between hospitals.

Arrangements for patient transport services (PTS)  and EUC were mostly the same. Therefore, we have reported most of our findings in relation to this core service in the relevant sections of the PTS report.

We rated the EUC service good overall for the same reasons set out in the PTS summary of findings below.