CQC rate Air Ambulance Operations Headquarters in Kent as Outstanding.

March 24, 2020

Air Ambulance Operations Headquarters has been rated as Outstanding following an inspection by the Care Quality Commission between 16 and 17 January 2020.

Air Ambulance Operations Headquarters is operated by Kent, Surrey and Sussex Air Ambulance. The service provides emergency and urgent care. A team of doctors and paramedics deliver time-critical medical care. Clinical staff respond to patients predominately by helicopter but also use a response vehicle in the event the crew cannot respond by air.

Inspectors rated the service as Outstanding for being safe, effective, caring, responsive to people’s needs and well-led. 

The full report of the inspectors’ findings will be available on CQC’s website here:  https://www.cqc.org.uk/location/1-5827914989

Catherine Campbell, Head of Hospital Inspection for the South East said:


“As demand for emergency care grows year by year, our air ambulance services have never been busier. Kent, Surrey & Sussex Air Ambulance Trust are providing an exceptional service. the service is using innovative ways to ensure that people get the attention they need, in the right place and at the right time. 


“We found a strong person-centred culture, with staff providing care that was kind and promoted people’s dignity. Staff worked together to understand and meet people’s needs. All staff, including those in different teams and services were involved in delivering care and treatment.


“I can only commend the staff for their dedication and effort, we will continue to watch their progress with interest.”


Staff knew about and dealt with any specific risk issues. The service responded to patients with serious injuries and some of these patients had severe blood loss. Normally the patient would have to wait until reaching hospital to receive blood products. The service were aware this was a specific risk with their patients and worked with a local NHS trust to allow the team to transport blood products and give these at the incident location.


The service offered their local stakeholders’ opportunities to work with the service. This allowed the effectiveness of the multi-agency working to increase. Part of the joint working included offering the local NHS ambulance service a space for a member of their staff to attend the air ambulance and act as an observer on missions. 


Staff made sure patients and those close to them understood their care and treatment. Staff kept patients and relatives as informed as possible about the treatment being given. However, often their patients were unconscious. Patients that responded to the service’s patient survey said they felt involved in choices about their care and treatment


The service worked with other providers to support them to meet demand. The service’s dispatcher sat alongside the local NHS ambulance trust critical care desk. In the event of a critical incident, the two teams worked together to ensure they dispatched resources to support each other. 


The service engaged with its partners with the aim of improving care to all patients. This included working with; local NHS trusts training their staff, the Ministry of Defence to improve services to the UK armed forces, and other air ambulance services across the globe. These services shared learning in both directions, and with the European Space Agency on research projects. This will lead to improved care to astronauts on the international space station.

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