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Inspection carried out on 11 to 12 June 2019

During a routine inspection

DHL PTS Ponders End is operated by DHL Supply Chain Limited. The service provides a patient transport service to NHS patients.

We inspected this service using our comprehensive inspection methodology. We carried out the unannounced part of the inspection on 11 and 12 June 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.

Services we rate

We rated this service as Good overall.

We found good areas of practice:

  • Staff had 100% training compliance in all mandatory training modules, with refresher training for all modules

  • Induction training was thorough, and staff were not allowed on PTS duties without completing induction training.

  • All vehicles had in date MOT certificates, road tax and insurance.

  • There was a strong visible patient centred culture amongst all staff that had contact with patients, either face to face or on the telephone.
  • Staff built good rapport with healthcare professionals outside of the provider.

  • We observed good application of infection prevention control. Deep cleaning of ambulances was scheduled every six weeks.

  • We found a strong evidence-based care practice and good understanding by staff of national guidelines.

  • Staff were highly motivated and inspired to offer care that was kind and promoted patient’s dignity.
  • There was an appeal team available to deal with complaints as well as the clinical support from the registered nurses.

  • We saw there was opportunity for career progression at the provider.

  • Staff at DHL patients transport service had access to an employee assistance programme.


  • Staff did not follow the guidelines set out in the safeguarding policy to report a safeguarding concern.

  • All staff in the organisation including senior staff were unsure of who the safeguarding lead was, including the safeguarding lead listed in the policy.

  • There were no formalised documented daily cleaning lists for staff to follow.

  • Staff did not have an adequate supply of personal protective equipment to do their job.

  • All staff reported being unhappy with the Personal Digital Assistant (PDA) equipment used for navigation. Staff reported that they needed to use their own equipment for navigation. This practice is not in compliance with the General Data Protection Regulation 2016, a regulation in European Union law.

  • There was no formalised paperwork for mental capacity assessments on the ambulances.

  • On inspection we found unsafe storage of fire extinguishers and footplates within the ambulances on 10 ambulance vehicles.

  • Ambulance Care Assistants (ACA) we spoke with reported no lessons learnt and little feedback from senior management team in regard to incidents.

  • All signs and posters within the reception area of the provider regarding patient transport services referred to the ACAs as ‘drivers’.

Following this inspection, we told the provider that it must take some actions to comply with the regulations and that it should make other improvements. We also issued the provider with two requirement notices that affected patient transport services. Details are at the end of the report.

Professor Edward Baker

Chief Inspector of Hospitals