The Care Quality Commission (CQC), the independent regulator of health and social care in England, has published a new report which shows the findings from its inspection programme of independent ambulance services in England.

The programme was completed in March 2018 and involved inspections of independent ambulance service providers registered with CQC at the end of December 2016.

The CQC reports that it has seen good practice and noted that improvements have been made by some individual services.  However, the CQC is still concerned about how safely and effectively independent ambulance providers are caring for patients.

Key findings from the report:

  • the quality and safety of independent ambulance services varies greatly
  • many services inspected had a poor understanding of governance
  • many providers offered either no or very limited staff training
  • the standard of medicines management was not consistent
  • there was some good practice in infection control and vehicle maintenance

As well asking providers to improve, the CQC is calling for NHS England, clinical commissioning groups and others that commission independent ambulance services to make sure patients are safe.  It is asking them to use the quality ratings that can now be awarded to independent ambulance services to help them make better commissioning decisions.

Ellen Armistead, CQC’s Deputy Chief Inspector of Hospitals and lead for ambulance services, said: “Providers have a responsibility to ensure that people within their care receive appropriate treatment, that the vehicles used to transport patients are fitted with the right equipment, that staff are appropriately trained and supported to carry out their roles, risks and incidents are reported and addressed, and that medicines are stored securely.”

Read the report

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