• Ambulance service

Devon Air Ambulance Head Office

Overall: Outstanding read more about inspection ratings

Unit 5, Sandpiper Court, Harrington Lane, Exeter, EX4 8NS (01392) 466666

Provided and run by:
Devon Air Ambulance Trading Company Limited

Latest inspection summary

On this page

Background to this inspection

Updated 30 August 2022

Devon Air Ambulance provided air ambulance services for the county of Devon and surrounding areas. Operating out of Eaglescott airfield and Exeter airport, in Devon, Devon Air Ambulance had two helicopters and two critical care cars; the latter operated when poor weather or essential maintenance prevented the aircraft from flying. These vehicles delivered doctors and paramedics to an accident. The website stated “sometimes our paramedics or doctor might be delivered to scene and then travel with a patient to hospital by land ambulance”.

The service had developed and commissioned a helicopter emergency medical service dispatch service, which fielded all referral calls via a triage system, and was hosted by a local NHS Ambulance Trust. The service operated from Exeter between the hours of 7am to 2am each day and from Eaglescott 9am to 7pm, noted as seasonal. The critical care team were available 7am to 7pm.

The annual report for 2021 noted the service undertook 1,384 missions by helicopter, 516 missions using the critical care cars. Total number of missions 1,900 from which 1,050 were reported as trauma missions, 844 medical missions with 1,054 adults, 137 children and 288 persons over 70 being assisted. Conditions treated included 315 cardiac arrests and 274 road traffic incidents.

To June 2022, the patient services internal reporting dashboard reported the service recorded 431 incident reports with 74 near miss events’. No never events were recorded.

The regulated activities carried out at this location were treatment of disease, disorder and injury, diagnostics and screening procedures, transport services, triage and medical advice provided remotely and surgical procedures.

The provider had a registered manager in post at the time of the inspection. The registered manager has been in post since registration in April 2019.

Devon Air Ambulance employed Devon Air Ambulance employed two critical care paramedic manager, two critical care paramedic senior managers and a Lead Critical Care Consultant Doctor, 13 critical care consultants and one junior doctor, eight specialist paramedics in critical care and eight advanced paramedics in critical care. The service also employed a Helicopter Emergency Medical Service Delivery Manager, three patient liaison clinicians, six administrators and two pastoral volunteers.

We inspected the service using our comprehensive inspection methodology, inspecting the domains of safe, effective, caring, responsive and well-led. We carried out our inspection on 21 June 2022. The service had not been previously inspected.

Overall inspection


Updated 30 August 2022

Our rating of this location improved. We rated it as outstanding because:

  • The service provided mandatory training in key skills to all staff and made sure everyone completed it. The service had developed training programmes and had provided, in partnership, higher degree opportunities for staff.
  • The design, maintenance and use of facilities, premises, vehicles and equipment kept people safe.
  • People were protected by strong comprehensive safety systems, and a focus on openness, transparency and learning. A proactive approach to anticipating and managing risks to people who used services was recognised as being the responsibility of all staff. Staff identified and quickly acted upon patients at risk of deterioration. External organisations were actively engaged in assessing and managing anticipated future risks.
  • There was a truly holistic approach to assessing, planning and delivering care and treatment to people who used the service. There was a safe use of innovative and pioneering approaches to care. New evidence-based techniques and technologies were used to support the delivery of high-quality care.
  • All staff were actively engaged in activities to monitor and improve quality and outcomes. Opportunities to participate in benchmarking, peer review and research were proactively pursued.
  • Staff, teams and services were committed to working collaboratively and had found innovative and efficient ways to deliver more joined-up care to people who use services.
  • People were truly respected and valued as individuals. Feedback from people who use the service and those who were close to them was continually positive about the way staff treat people. People thought that staff went the extra mile and the care they received exceeded their expectations. Staff were highly motivated and inspired to offer care that was kind and promoted people’s dignity.
  • The involvement of other organisations and the local community was integral to how services were planned and ensured services met the needs of local people and the communities served.
  • Leaders had an inspiring shared purpose, strove to deliver and motivate staff to succeed. Leaders had the skills and abilities to run the service. They understood and managed the priorities and issues the service faced. They were visible and approachable in the service for patients and staff.
  • Leaders and staff used innovative approaches to gather feedback from people who used services and the public. This was then used to plan and manage services. They collaborated with local, national, international partner organisations to help improve services for patients. There were consistently high levels of constructive engagement with staff, patients, relatives and external stakeholders.
  • There was a clear proactive approach to seeking out and embedding new and more sustainable models of care. Leaders encouraged innovation and participation in research.


  • The thermometer in the medicine’s storage room was not in place. This was promptly addressed on the day of inspection.