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CQC identifies improvements are needed at North East Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust

1 May 2014
Ambulance Headquarters, Bernicia House
North East Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust

1 May 2014

The Care Quality Commission has told North East Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust that improvements are required to ensure patients receive services that meet national standards of safety and quality.

This follows an unannounced inspection of the trust’s services in February 2014, which was carried out as part of CQC’s scheduled inspection programme for 2013/14 and to follow up on concerns received regarding the trust’s recruitment procedures.

Inspectors visited four ambulance stations and an emergency control centre. They also spent time at three hospital sites and at one of the trust’s training centres, where they spoke to a number of patients and trust staff.

As a result, inspectors saw that patients experienced positive interactions with ambulance staff and that care and treatment was delivered to a high standard. Patients were treated with dignity and respect, and their views on treatment were taken into account.

However, the CQC’s inspection report, which is published today, also identifies that the trust was failing to meet four of the six national standards reviewed.

Some of the issues of concern identified by our inspectors included:

  • Some medicines were not always kept safely or securely in ambulance stations.
  • Disclosure and Barring Service Checks (previously known as CRB checks) had not been completed for all staff.
  • Emergency ambulance crews and dispatch staff told inspectors they had difficulty in accessing meaningful supervision or formal appraisals due to work pressures and the need to prioritise operational work.
  • Although systems were in place to assess, monitor and improve performance, inspectors found shortfalls in human resource governance, complaint management and medication audits.

As a result of the inspection, CQC has issued a formal warning to the trust, requiring improvements in relation to recruitment procedures. They have also told the trust that action is required to address shortfalls against the national standards relating to medicines management, supporting workers and monitoring the quality of service provision.

Inspectors will return, unannounced, to check that the necessary improvements have been made.

Julie Walton, CQC Head of Hospital Inspections for the North East, said:

“The issues we identified are a real concern and we have told the trust where further improvements must be made to ensure patients receive the service they are entitled to expect.

“The trust has submitted an action plan setting out the steps they will take to achieve compliance and have given a commitment to ensure that all outstanding Disclosure and Barring Service checks will be undertaken by the end of April 2014.”

“We will return to check that the necessary changes have been made and that they can be sustained for the future.”

“In the meantime we continue to monitor the trust closely in liaison with NHS England and Monitor to ensure the organisation works to the benefit of patients.”


For further information please contact Kirstin Hannaford CQC Regional Communications Officer on 0191 233 3629 or 07825947160.

The CQC press office can be contacted on 0207 448 9401 or out of hours on 07917 232 143.

Notes to editors:

Read the full report here.

Inspectors found that the North East Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust was failing to meet four standards:

  • Management of medicines
  • Requirements relating to workers
  • Supporting workers
  • Assessing and monitoring the quality of service provision

About the Care Quality Commission

The Care Quality Commission (CQC) is the independent regulator of health and social care in England.

We make sure health and social care services provide people with safe, effective, compassionate, high-quality care and we encourage care services to improve.

We monitor, inspect and regulate services to make sure they meet fundamental standards of quality and safety and we publish what we find to help people choose care.

Last updated:
30 May 2017