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CQC takes action to protect the welfare of people through cancellation of Plymouth Central Ambulance Service’s registration

15 December 2016
Plymouth Central Ambulance Service
  • Media,
  • Ambulance services

The Care Quality Commission (CQC) has taken legal action to stop a Plymouth private ambulance service from being able to run ambulance services, following serious concerns about patient safety.

CQC’s decision to cancel the registration means that Plymouth Central Ambulance Service can no longer legally operate a private ambulance service from its premises in Plymouth.

Inspectors took this action because they had serious concerns about the service and the risks to people using it.

Plymouth Central Ambulance Service is an independent ambulance service based in Plymouth. The service provided patient transport and emergency response services. They had contracts with the NHS, local clinical commissioning group and provided services on request from organisations and individuals.

CQC carried out an inspection at the service on 5 and 10 May 2016 in response to concerns received about the safe care and treatment of service users. Further concerns were identified, and we took action to cancel both the registered manager’s and provider’s registrations following our inspection. These legal proceedings have now concluded and we are able to report on the outcome of the actions we have taken.

Mary Cridge, Head of Hospital Inspection in CQC’s South West region, said:

“What we saw at Plymouth Central Ambulance Service was clearly unacceptable. CQC needed to take action to protect the safety and wellbeing of people using the service by moving to cancel this service’s registration, meaning it could no longer operate.

“Taking action leading to the closure of any service is not something we take lightly, but when we find very poor practice, as we did in this case, we have no choice but to take action to protect the safety and welfare of people.

“This sends a strong public message that we will not hesitate to take tough action if a provider fails to meet the standards for care that everyone has the right to expect.

“Our priority is always the safety of people using health and social care services and we would not take this kind of action if we did not feel there was a serious risk to people, their health and wellbeing or that the environment they were in was unsafe.

“We have been informed the provider Plymouth Central Ambulance Service Limited have sold the service’s assets to another registered provider who already have plans in place to ensure patients receive the standard of care expected”

The report from this inspection highlights a number of serious shortfalls that led to CQC using their enforcement powers including:

Incidents affecting the safety and welfare of patients was not always thoroughly investigated and opportunities to raise safeguarding concerns were missed.

There were insufficient numbers of suitably qualified, competent, skilled and experienced staff deployed to meet people’s care and treatment needs.

Any information around the use of oxygen, treatment given, consent decisions, general observations, handover information, and medications was not documented because the service did not keep adequate patient records. The service carried oxygen on the ambulances but did not record when they gave it to patients. This meant the use of oxygen was not monitored, audited, or traceable.

Inspectors found that staff who should have had emergency driving certification and blue light training did not have it and that some staff were driving using blue lights without training.

There were no mechanisms in place to provide staff with appropriate training to perform their role. Although induction training had been established when a member of staff started with the provider, there was no refresher or update training provided. Staff who delivered training were not up-to-date with training themselves and there were no assurance processes in place to ensure training was being delivered effectively. Specialist skills such as tracheostomy care and suction had not been taught to staff since 2014 when the trainer left the organisation.

A full report for the service has been published.


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Last updated:
29 May 2017

Notes to editors

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.