ENGLAND’S chief inspector of hospitals has slammed SSG UK Specialist Ambulance Service – South as being ‘inadequate’ and put the service into special measures.
The damning verdict follows the Care Quality Commission’s visit to SSG’s Wickham Road, Fareham, branch during August and September after concerns were raised over medicines, staffing and overall management, as well as one of the provider’s ambulances being involved in a road traffic collision.
SSG UK Specialist Ambulance Service – South provides both emergency and urgent care and patient transport services throughout the south east which are commissioned by local NHS trusts.
Areas of concern included emergency and urgent care, which was rated inadequate for being safe, effective and well-led and required improvement for patients’ needs.
Inspectors found that the overall management of medicines was not safe or in line with legislation.
Controlled drugs were not managed safely and as there were no regular audits SSG could not assure inspectors that controlled drugs were being managed. Records of medicines were also destroyed.
CQC deputy chief inspector of hospitals, Dr Nigel Acheson, said: ‘We are all well aware that our ambulance services are under a tremendous amount of pressure and scrutiny.
‘However, when we inspected SSG UK Specialist Ambulance Service – South in August, we were extremely concerned at the disconnect we identified between the senior team and the staff working on the front-line. We saw no sign of a clear vision and strategy and a lack of response to the concerns we had previously raised.
‘The vision for the trust was not clearly articulated by the senior team and staff. The local managers provided us with different visions for the future but not how these plans would come into action, which did not assure us that the teams were working cohesively.
‘On the basis of this inspection, we have placed this provider into special measures. That means that SSG UK Specialist Ambulance Service – South will be inspected again within six months.
‘We are currently engaging with the provider and monitoring the service very closely. If insufficient improvements have been made, we will take action in line with our enforcement procedures.’
Other areas criticised included the service not providing an accurate count of staff who were employed or worked as bank staff. Not all managers had the necessary skills, knowledge or experience to lead and develop the service.
Patient transport services was rated inadequate for being safe, while there was limited evidence on how patients could be protected from the risks of harm. There were no risks assessments completed and staff did not record a clear rationale for the use of restraint.