The improved rating comes after an inspection of the trust in June 2018 and resulted in an overall rating of ‘good’ as well as ‘good’ ratings for three of the trust’s core services; urgent and emergency care, emergency operations centres and resilience teams. The service’s patient transport service and NHS 111 service were not inspected so their rating remains ‘good’.
Alongside ratings for the trust’s core functions, CQC asked ‘is the service well-led, safe, effective, caring and responsive?’ NWAS was rated ‘good’ in all areas which means inspectors found evidence that safety and leadership at the trust had improved since its last inspection in 2016.
Highlights from the inspection include the observation by CQC of polite, caring and respectful frontline ambulance staff, holding the hands of patients who were scared and acting with compassion and respect towards patients. In the emergency operations centres, CQC saw that staff demonstrated compassion, kindness and respect towards callers and patients, including those in mental health crisis.
Outstanding practice was noted where community specialist paramedics worked as members of multidisciplinary teams with community nurses, mental health nurses, doctors and teachers amongst others, and in care homes on preventative measures aimed at reducing the number of admittances to emergency departments.
Interim Chief Executive at North West Ambulance Service, Michael Forrest, said:
"We are delighted with a ‘good’ rating from the Care Quality Commission which we feel reflects the way we deliver services for patients and values the dedication of our hardworking staff who work under ever increasing demand.
CQC said that our staff are proud to work for the organisation, and we’re extremely proud of them too! We are thrilled CQC noticed the high levels of care by our frontline staff, where patients were treated with respect and compassion.
“We are particularly happy with improved ‘well-led’ and ‘safe’ ratings, and that CQC noted staff were engaged with our strategic vision to do the right thing for every patient, every time.
“There’s still a lot of work to do to achieve our aim of becoming the best ambulance service in the country, but this rating assures us, and the people we serve in the North West, that we’re heading in the right direction.”
In term of improvements, the regulator said NWAS should improve systems to ensure vehicles are safe, clean and ready to go, ensure consistent performance measurement and monitoring across the trust and standardise care for patients with mental health issues as staff knowledge was found to be varied.
CQC also identified a need to improve engagement with other local services so the trust can contribute to the development of strategy reviews.