AN AMBULANCE service has been warned its service could be terminated after it was rated ‘inadequate’ by inspectors.
SSG UK Specialist Ambulance Service – Corporate HQ, which provides emergency and urgent care transport services for NHS trusts in the south of England, was put into special measures by the Care Quality Commission (CQC) in November.
The CQC had visited SSG southern’s division – known as SSG UK Specialist Ambulance Service South – in Wickham Road, Fareham, during August and September after concerns were raised over medicines not being safely managed and issues over staffing.
Overall concerns with management including poor training and a lack of leadership were also aired. One of the provider’s ambulances was also involved in a road traffic collision.
The damning situation has been compounded following the inspection of its headquarters in Rainham, Essex, which oversees all operations for the regions it covers across the country, with more failings highlighted in a report published this week following the inspection in November.
Concerns in the report stated: ‘Local leaders did not all have the necessary range of skills, knowledge, experience or capacity to lead and develop the service. Some directors did not have appropriate training, development or resources to support them in their role.’
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Worries over patients were also raised. ‘There were insufficient processes to review patient records and the service’s information sharing policy was out of date,’ the report added.
Nigel Acheson, deputy chief inspector of hospitals, confirmed in his report that the service remains in special measures and will be reviewed again within six months after slapping it with a warning notice for breach of regulations.
Mr Acheson said in the report: ‘If insufficient improvements have been made such that there remains a rating of inadequate overall or for any key question or core service, we will take action in line with our enforcement procedures to begin the process of preventing the provider from operating the service.
‘This will lead to cancelling their registration or to varying the terms of their registration within six months if they do not improve. The service will be kept under review and, if needed, could be escalated to urgent enforcement action.’
An SSG spokesman said a number of moves were under way, including the appointment of managing director David Harris, who has 17 years experience in healthcare. Changes started after the inspection in Fareham.
‘The CQC report summary of ‘inadequate’ is taken extremely seriously by the company’s executive management team and its staff,’ the spokesman said.
‘It is recognised that the company leadership needs significant strengthening in order to guarantee the improvements needed to achieve the standard of care deserved by the patients each day.
‘A critical change programme which was started following the CQC report of our Fareham station has already started to embed clinical, corporate, system and process change.
‘We fully accept the findings made by the CQC in its report on our Rainham HQ and are confident the changes we have made to date, together with the additional programme of work currently in delivery by the CCP, will guarantee that all the issues identified will be compliant with the regulations of Health and Social Care Act 2008 and the recommendations.’
South Central Ambulance Service suspended its use of SSG's services in Hampshire, Portsmouth and parts of Berkshire in November – which has now been lifted.
A spokesman said: ‘The suspension on using SSG was lifted in December following urgent remedial actions that we required SSG to undertake to ensure their service met our requirements and could be delivered safely. We continue to use SSG with increased oversight and monitoring.’