A scandal-hit ambulance service has been blasted after a damning report revealed they don’t have enough staff or vehicles to ensure the safety of patients.
The Care Quality Commission (CQC) has told East Midlands Ambulance Service (EMAS) it requires improvement following the inspection last November.
Inspectors found the levels of safety for patients at the struggling NHS trust were “inadequate” after long delays in being able to transfer them over to A&E staff.
EMAS, which has some of the worst response times in England, serves around 4.8million people across six counties.
The service has now been criticised for not being able to operate safely and the report published yesterday (Tue) lists a number of improvements that need to be made.
These include the need to make sure there are enough emergency vehicles to meet demand and that medicines are safely stored.
In addition there must be enough staff with the right skills to treat patients after the review also revealed some workers were not properly trained.
Professor Sir Mike Richards, the CQC’s chief inspector of hospitals, said: “There was an unrelenting demand for emergency services combined with a lack of staff and resources to meet the need.
“We found that while people were cared for and treated well, there were insufficient staff and a lack of appropriate skill-mix to meet the needs of patients in a timely manner.”
The report also found EMAS “does not ensure care and treatment is provided in a safe way because there are insufficient numbers of suitably qualified, competent, skilled and experienced persons employed”.
It added: “At times there were insufficient emergency vehicles and staff to safely meet demand.
“There were insufficient numbers of staff in emergency and urgent care services and the emergency operations centre.
“The skill mix of staff deployed was not always safe and front line manager had too many staff to support and supervise safely.”
EMAS has repeatedly failed to hit Government targets to reach the most seriously-ill patients ever since it was created in 1999.
In 2013 it was forced to pay £3.5 million to Monitor after it missed national targets for getting to life-threatening calls for the third year in a row.
And in April this year it emerged EMAS had overspent by almost £12 million in the last financial year and had to take out an additional loan to help with running costs.
Pete McGavin, chief executive at Healthwatch Nottingham which represents patients, said the report was yet another cause for concern.
He added: “Nottingham Healthwatch has been concerned for some time about the failure of EMAS to meet its performance targets and we are naturally very disappointed that the CQC has found that the organisation has not been well led and not regarded as safe.”
Managers at EMAS say they are now drawing up an action plan to address the concerns before CQC inspectors visit again later this year.
Acting Chief Executive Richard Henderson said: “We are sorry and disappointed that we have not met the required standard for these measures.
“The review will look in detail at the level of demand we have experienced and the level of staff and vehicles needed along with finance.”
Dr Bob Winter, medical director at EMAS, added: “We’ve been asked to draw up an action plan and have made progress by the time we are inspected again which will probably be in November.”
NHS England has said it will work closely with EMAS to help improve its performance after holding a “risk summit” following the results of the inspection.
Wendy Saviour, NHS England director of commissioning operations (North Midlands), added: “Every patient who uses the NHS has the right to expect safe, high quality care and treatment and NHS England is committed to ensuring this.”
EMAS, which covers Derbyshire, Leicestershire, Lincolnshire, Northamptonshire, Nottinghamshire and Rutland, has around 2,700 members of staff and receives approximately 2,000 calls a day.
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