North West Ambulance Service gets mixed Care Quality Commission report

The North West Ambulance Service NHS Trust has received a mixed report following a health watchdog inspection.

Overall, the Care Quality Commission (CQC) said the trust provided safe and effective services which were well-led and with a clear focus on quality.

But it was criticised for not always sending the most appropriate vehicle to patients and for taking too many to hospital.

Trust chief executive Bob Williams said he was "extremely proud of the staff".

He added: "Providing care to a high standard with compassion and empathy is what an NHS organisation is all about and it is very heartening to hear that the CQC has observed this in action in the North West.

"It is fantastic to receive this external endorsement and recognition of best practice as well as an understanding of the challenges we face which we will use to underpin our improvement plans."

NW Ambulance Service NHS Trust
Responds to 1.2 million emergency calls each year
Provides services for more than seven million people in the North West
Employs more than 4,900 staff
Has about 1,000 vehicles which deal with emergency and non-urgent calls

The inspection team spent four days in August visiting the trust's three emergency operations centres covering Cheshire and Merseyside, Greater Manchester, and Cumbria and Lancashire, and shadowing ambulance crews and paramedics.

They visited 50 of the 100 ambulance stations within the trust and A&E and outpatient departments to talk to patients and staff about their experience of the ambulance service.

Patients who met inspectors were positive about the quality of their care, and inspectors saw staff treating patients with compassion, dignity and respect.

The trust also encouraged the continuing education of their staff, but should make sure of them receive appropriate supervision and appraisal, the report found.

However, Prof Sir Mike Richards, CQC's chief inspector of hospitals, said compared with England's nine other regional ambulance services, it was the most likely to send an ambulance rather than deal with an emergency caller by finding alternative solutions.

He said: "The key to providing an excellent ambulance service is in first managing all the calls that come in to ensure that patients in need get the best possible service."

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