The CQC is the independent regulator of health and social care in England, ensuring safe, effective, compassionate, high quality care services to patients. By monitoring, inspecting and regulating services across all healthcare organisations, the CQC ensures organisations like Devon Air Ambulance meet the fundamental standards of quality and safety.
In 2019, the operational part of Devon Air Ambulance, the Devon Air Ambulance Trading Company Limited, registered with the CQC and became clinically independent. The Devon Air Ambulance Trading Company’s aim is to develop clinical excellence by constantly raising the bar of their emergency medical service provision to patients through excellence in training and developing clinical expertise, to directly benefit each of their patients.
Due to the pandemic, until recently the CQC have not been able to conduct on-site inspections, but in June this year, they undertook their first ‘Comprehensive’ Inspection of Devon Air Ambulance since their registration 3 years earlier.
The Care Quality Commission states: ‘There are five questions we ask all care services. They’re at the heart of the way we regulate, and they help us to make sure we focus on the things that matter to people.’
Five Key Questions
- Are they safe? Are patients protected from abuse and avoidable harm?
- Are they effective? Does the care, treatment and support given, achieve good outcomes, help to maintain quality of life, based on best available evidence?
- Are they caring? Do the staff involve and treat patients with compassion, kindness, dignity and respect?
- Are they responsive to people’s needs? Is the organisation organised to meet their patient’s needs?
- Are they well-led? The leadership, management and governance of the organisation need to make sure it is providing high quality care based around the patient’s individual needs, that they encourage innovation, and that they promote an open and fair culture.
How the Five questions are used within the inspection
Each of the five key questions are broken down into ‘key lines of enquiry’. These help the CQC to decide what to focus on. For example, the inspection team might look at how risks are identified and managed, in order to help them understand whether a service is safe. This ensures consistency and focuses on the areas that matter most.
An ‘Outstanding’ rating
Following the inspection, Devon Air Ambulance’s service was rated Outstanding overall and specifically for Caring, Responsive, Effective and being Well Led.
Part of the report summary states:
‘During our inspection we spoke with 10 patients and their families. Feedback was consistently positive and complimentary about the service and the care and support they received. All patients and families described the service in exceptional terms and said things such as ‘couldn’t have done more’, that the service was quick to respond and that handover to hospital staff and follow up by the service after the patient had been admitted to hospital was ‘very much appreciated’.
Helena Holt, Chief Executive Officer at Devon Air Ambulance said:
All our people are wholeheartedly committed to providing the best possible care for our patients so I am delighted that this report confirms our belief that we have an outstanding team delivering an outstanding life-saving service to the people of Devon. I cannot thank them enough.
Celebrate an outstanding inspection result
Nigel Hare, Operations Director at Devon Air Ambulance stated:
‘It is important that we recognise and celebrate the success of our ‘outstanding’ rating across the whole organisation. Over the past few years, it has taken hard work, and sometimes difficult decisions in an unprecedented, challenging environment. So, it is extra special that the commitment and culmination of all the hard work from all our staff and the desire to provide the very best service to our patients has been recognised by the CQC as Outstanding.
‘To make all this possible, our service requires essential funding and it is thanks to the kind and generous support of the people of Devon, plus our fantastic team, that we are proud to be celebrating such a brilliant result today, so let us congratulate them all with a huge thanks to our ‘outstanding’ supporters, our ‘outstanding’ organisation and our ‘outstanding’ staff and volunteers too.’