East Midlands Ambulance Service (EMAS) is failing in its standards of care towards patients and staff, a new report has claimed.
Inspectors from the Care Quality Commission (CQC) have ordered EMAS bosses to come up with a plan of action by Thursday to improve four out of six areas where current standards fell below the minimum expected or face possible sanctions.
This follows a series of inspections in January and February when both patients and staff using EMAS were interviewed after more than 160 complaints were made about the ambulance service since the CQC’s last inspection in March 2013.
Areas highlighted for improvement included “minimum response standards to life-threatening calls,” an inadequate number of ambulances available to meet response times and an insufficent number of qualified and experienced staff to deal with patients.
The report said: “People who used the service (EMAS) told us they were happy with the care and treatment they received.
“However, some people told us of delays they had experienced waiting for an ambulance to arrive.
“We found that vehicles were not always available for staff to carry out their duties and staff told us they experienced delays in finding replacement vehicles if their vehicle was taken off the road.
“Since our last inspection, the trust (EMAS) has recruited additional staff but the majority in all areas of the trust told us they did not feel supported and did not have access to training which would help them develop their career and gain professional qualifications.”
Inspectors did praise EMAS for the cleanliness of ambulances, infection prevention and maintenance of medical equipment.
EMAS was also judged to have met the CQC’s standard for handling complaints, achieving a target of dealing with them within 20 days.
Sue Noyes, chief executive of EMAS, said: “The findings of the report reflect that EMAS is well under way in delivering an organisation-wide improvement programme.
“I am confident that our improvement plans under the Better Patient Care programme will meet the areas identified within the CQC report before the next inspection.
“I would like to thank staff for their continued hard work to deliver these improvements, particularly during what has been a busy winter period.”