London Ambulance Service Trust is placed in special measures by health watchdog

London Ambulance Service has been placed in special measures

London Ambulance Service has been placed in special measures - Credit: Archant

The Care Quality Commission (CQC) has taken the unprecedented step after it rated the London Ambulance Service NHS Trust as ‘inadequate’.

The trust was slammed for its poor ambulance response times and inspectors also noted a culture of harassment and bullying in the workplace with inadequately trained staff and a lack of available equipment needed for their jobs.

While the CQC found that the trust delivered services that were caring it ruled improvements were needed on safety, effectiveness, responsiveness and leadership.

The conclusion comes after a team of 54 CQC inspectors probed all aspects of the trust including interviewing patients during three weeks in June.

Until March last year the trust was consistently the best-performing service in the country in responding to ‘category A’ calls which are immediately life-threatening cases.

However since then the number of ambulances meeting the set response time of eight minutes has dropped to less than the 75 per cent target.

The trust must address the issues raised by the CQC before its rating can be upgraded.

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Professor Sir Mike Richards, CQC’s chief inspector of hospitals, said: “The trust has been performing poorly on response times since March 2014. This is a very serious problem, which the trust clearly isn’t able to address alone, and which needs action to put right.”

He added: “The leadership of LAS has told us that they have already taken action to address the issues we have raised, and we will be monitoring the service closely to ensure this continues.”

Dr Fionna Moore MBE, chief executive of the trust, issued an apology for ‘falling short of some of the standards CQC and Londoners expect’.

She added: “We accept that we need to improve the way we measure and monitor some important standards and processes but we would like to reassure Londoners that we always prioritise our response to our most critically ill and injured patients and, in the event of a major incident, we are ready to respond and CQC recognise this.”