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Warwickshire & Northamptonshire Air Ambulance achieves ‘outstanding’ CQC rating

Warwickshire & Northamptonshire Air Ambulance achieves ‘outstanding’ CQC rating

The Warwickshire & Northamptonshire Air Ambulance (WNAA) service has welcomed the ‘Care Quality Commission (CQC)’ ‘Outstanding’ rating of its clinical services – the highest overall rating the regulator awards – into the standard and practice of emergency and urgent care provided, following a comprehensive inspection of the lifesaving service.

The unannounced inspection took place on 24 August 2023 at the service’s WNAA operating base at Coventry Airport, with the published report highlighting the exceptional work of the dedicated team at WNAA – a service operated by The Air Ambulance Service (TAAS).

To get to the heart of patient experiences of care and treatment, the CQC, the independent regulator of health and social care in England, themed their inspection on five key lines of enquiry to inform their rating: are services ‘safe’, ‘effective’, ‘caring’, ‘responsive to people’s needs’, and ‘well-led’.

Inspectors then formed their overall ‘Outstanding’ judgement using a combination of information from ongoing monitoring of intelligence data about the service, alongside information given by the provider, patients, public, and other organisations.

Commenting on the report, TAAS Chief Operating Officer, Richard Clayton said: “I am absolutely delighted by the CQC’s overall rating of our WNAA service, especially as this is our first rating, and it follows an overall ‘Outstanding’ rating of our Derbyshire, Leicestershire & Rutland Air Ambulance service late last year. The published report is a great reflection on a lot of hard work by the entire operations team, and wider charity, who work tirelessly to provide exceptional patient care in often very challenging situations.

“Our ethos is to continuously drive and enhance the delivery of high-quality person-centred pre-hospital emergency medicine and critical care, and this report not only validates that, but supports our belief that we are doing the very best for our patients – as they are the driving force behind everything we do.

“It’s fantastic that the inspectors were able to see and articulate the passion and commitment that exists within everyone across the wider charity, we can only achieve reports like this because of everyone’s hard work, everyone involved should be immensely proud.”

The report praises WNAA’s service in its overall approach in ensuring it was “planned and organised so it met the needs of the local population,” and that “staff were experienced, qualified and had the right skills and knowledge to meet the needs of patients,” referencing that “outcomes for people who use services were positive, consistent, and regularly exceeded expectations.”

Staff and leadership at WNAA were seen to work well together to ensure people received the best possible care and were impressed that the service was working with emergency service colleagues to influence both clinical and operational practice for the benefit of its patients and to further educate the public by actively participating in research and work on public and preventative health initiatives such as leading healthier lives and its Knife Crime Campaign.

People were seen to be truly respected and valued as individuals and are empowered as partners in their care, practically and emotionally. Staff treated patients with compassion and kindness, and “respected their privacy and dignity, took account of their individual needs, and helped them understand their conditions.” It was also noted that the charity continued that compassionate support to patients, families, and carers after incidents, via the services’ dedicated Clinical Liaison Officer role.

Feedback from those and relatives of those using the service was recognised as continually positive with a strong visible person-centred culture. All patients and relatives spoken to were consistently positive in their praise about the way they were treated. All felt the service had provided exceptional care and treatment, stating “they really know their job, they were unbelievable,” and “they have given me a second chance at life.”

The CQC also describes the organisation’s leaders as having “the skills, knowledge, experience and integrity to run the service,” whilst supporting staff to develop their skills, and “were driven to provide high-quality person-centred care.”

Staff “felt respected, supported, and valued,” and were “committed to improving services continually.” With the continuing development of the staff’s skills, competence and knowledge being recognised as being integral to ensuring high quality care.

Commenting on the achievement, Chief Executive Officer, Peta Wilkinson, said: “I’m delighted that the charity has achieved the highest overall rating from the CQC; it clearly validates our service’s purpose and recognises the high quality of emergency and urgent care that we deliver every single day.

“I have seen first-hand the dedication, professionalism, and passion of the frontline teams who work in the delivery of our lifesaving service, as well as colleagues across the charity, and those generous people who support us by volunteering, leaving a legacy, fundraising for us, visiting our stores, or sharing their story – this success is a credit to everyone.”

The leadership, governance and culture were seen to be used positively to drive and improve the delivery of high-quality person-centred care.

The vital service has been serving its communities across Warwickshire, Northamptonshire and further afield, when called upon, for over 20 years, providing the highest standard of critical care within minutes to those in greatest need.

WNAA is always looking to further enhance the professional service it provides, continuously welcoming feedback, monitoring the effectiveness of care and treatment and using the findings to make further improvements to consistently achieve good outcomes for its patients.

To read WNAA’s full report, please click here.

To read DLRAA’s report, please click here.