South East Coast Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust (SECAmb) has reaffirmed its commitment to making improvements following the publication today, (Wednesday 26 October), of a Care Quality Commission (CQC) report.

The inspection, which took place in August, and looked at SECAmb’s urgent and emergency care, as well as its resilience teams, sees the Trust’s overall rating move from ‘Good’ to ‘Requires Improvement’. The individual rating for Caring remains rated as ‘Good’.

The inspection also checked on the Trust’s progress in meeting the requirements from a well-led inspection which took place in February. The February inspection resulted in an ‘Inadequate’ well-led rating, rated the Trust NHS 111 service as ‘Good’ but suspended other ratings until the latest inspection had been completed.

SECAmb is pleased the care provided by its staff was recognised with a ‘Good’ rating and that inspectors found and were encouraged that Trust leaders were showing a sense of urgency in prioritising the issues which had previously been identified.

SECAmb Interim Chief Executive, Siobhan Melia, was appointed in July this year. She said:

"I am really pleased that the excellent care provided by our staff has once again been recognised and rated as ‘Good’ by the CQC, despite the huge pressures they face every day. I am very proud of the high-quality care and compassion provided by our staff.

“We have already taken concerns around our culture and leadership extremely seriously and we are committed to making further improvements to ensure we improve our response to patients and the working lives of our staff. I know that there is much to do to get the Trust to where it needs to be and we are working closely with staff as well as partners both regionally and nationally to make the necessary improvements highlighted in the report."

The report found that there was additional pressure on SECAmb’s services which included increased staff sickness and increased delays in hospital handover. It also found, as flagged in a wider national CQC report published last week, State of Care, that the South East, along with other areas, has a health and social care system that is ‘gridlocked’. Inspectors recognised that SECAmb is unable to solve all of its issues alone and encouraged the Trust to work with the wider health system to find resolutions.

SECAmb has outlined an improvement plan focusing on four main areas; Quality Improvement, Responsive Care, Sustainability, and People and Culture. Work includes improving learning from incidents as well as further recruitment and greater retention of staff. It also involves growing the Trust’s voice within the wider NHS system to support improved patient pathways, reduce hospital handover delays and develop new partnerships.