Patients are treated with compassion and respect by the Isle of Wight Ambulance Service’s NHS 111 phone line, according to national benchmarking inspection which also noted many other positive findings.
Among them, the Care Quality Commission’s inspection report highlights the innovative integrated Urgent Care Hub, which provides a single point of contact for patients via 999 and 111.
The Care Quality Commission (CQC), the independent regulator of all health and social care services in England, carried out an announced inspection of the St Mary’s Hospital-based service in March 2015. The CQC chose to visit the Isle of Wight NHS Trust as a pilot, to help it develop the way it will inspect NHS 111 services in future. Therefore, the report does not include a final ‘rating’, although many aspects of the service were highlighted.
During their visit, inspectors spoke with a range of staff, reviewed patient satisfaction surveys, observed how calls were handled and found that the service met all of the National Quality Requirements.
NHS 111 is a phone-based service, where patients are assessed, given advice and directed to a local service that most appropriately meets their needs. The service is part of the integrated Urgent Care Hub which manages and coordinates all emergency, urgent and unscheduled care for the Isle of Wight. The hub has received national interest and praise for its innovative approach, and links St Mary’s Hospital, ambulance, GPs in and out of hours, district nursing, multi-disciplinary community support teams, mental health and social care through a single call centre. The service handles an average of 58,000 calls per year.
The key findings of the CQC inspection were:
• The service had suitable systems in place to monitor safety over time, which included learning from incidents and complaints
• Staff understood and fulfilled their responsibilities to raise concerns and report incidents
• Patients were assessed in line with best practice and current national guidance
• Training on use of the NHS Pathways system was comprehensive and systems were in place to mentor new staff members until they were competent in its use
• Patients were treated with compassion and respect and their privacy was maintained
• Patients were involved in care and treatment decisions
• The service worked with the clinical commissioning group and health and social care providers to respond to and meet patients’ needs
• The directory of service was well maintained and kept up to date by a designated member of staff
• The vision and values of the service had been communicated well to all staff members
• There were effective day-to-day working arrangements within the service, with staff having clear roles and responsibilities.
Two service improvements were suggested; to consider developing a report which reflects the overarching governance of the service and consider informing patients when their calls are being listened to for training purposes.
Chris Smith, Head of the Isle of Wight Ambulance Service, was behind the launch of the integrated Urgent Care Hub, where the NHS 111 service is based, in 2010. He said:
“I’m delighted for all our staff that their hard work and dedication to quality patient care has been recognised in this inspection report. The service has many benefits for our patients, not least that they get a much more streamlined approach to their care. It’s a really good example of the unique way health, social care and voluntary sector services work closely together on the Isle of Wight to provide excellent joined-up patient care.”
Karen Baker, Chief Executive of the Isle of Wight NHS Trust, said:
“We are rightly proud of the great service provided to patients and service users by the Ambulance Service’s integrated Urgent Care Hub, and this is echoed in the CQC report. Despite not receiving a rating, it is clear that inspectors found the overall quality of the service was high and meets all the national requirements.
“The innovative model of integrated services found in the hub is central to our plans under the My Life A Full Life programme, which is moving forward with speed thanks to the national support of NHS England through the vanguard scheme. Ultimately, we aim to provide more of the same joined-up, quality care, which is shown by this inspection to be effective, safe and caring.”