East Midlands Ambulance Service told to make improvements by health watchdog

East Midlands Ambulance Service has been told to make improvements Photo: Rui Vieira/PA

East Midlands Ambulance Service needs to improve its response times, staffing levels and ambulance availability, according to a report by the Care Quality Commission.

The health watchdog carried out an unannounced inspection in January and February to check safety and quality standards.

The report, published today, has highlighted four areas that the watchdog says need improvement:

  • the care and welfare of patients: minimum response standards to life-threatening calls are not being met and patients could not be assured they would receive care in a timely and effective manner;
  • the safety, availability and suitability of equipment: vehicles were not available in sufficient quantities in order to ensure the safety of patients;
  • staffing: the service did not always have enough suitably qualified, skilled and experienced staff to meet the needs of patients in a timely way;
  • support for staff: the service did not have suitable arrangements in place to ensure members of staff received appropriate appraisal and supervision.

East Midlands Ambulance Service has now been asked to come up with an action plan for making improvements, which it must submit to the Care Quality Commission by 17 April.

The service has been repeatedly criticised in the past for failing to meet response targets. Sue Noyes, the Acting Chief Executive, has previously told ITV News Central the service is committed to making improvements.

[Watch: East Midlands Ambulance Service's 'Better Patient Care' plan to improve response times and clinical safety.](http://www.itv.com/news/central/update/2013-12-06/emas-organisation-has-listened-to-patients-and-experts/)

The report also says the service met cleanliness and infection control standards and effectively handled all complaints.

The Care Quality Commission also noted improvements made since its last inspection, including:

  • responses to less urgent calls;
  • infection control;
  • reduction of staff sickness rates;
  • staff engagement;
  • monitoring of equipment.