Local air ambulance achieves ‘Outstanding’ CQC rating

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The Derbyshire, Leicestershire & Rutland Air Ambulance (DLRAA) 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 14 June 2023 at the service’s DLRAA operating base, with the published report highlighting the exceptional work of the dedicated team at DLRAA - 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’.

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Commenting on the report, TAAS Director of Operations Richard Clayton said: “I am absolutely delighted by the CQC’s overall rating of our DLRAA service, especially as this is our first rating. 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.”

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.

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The report praises the DLRAA service in its overall approach in ensuring it “met the needs of the local population 24 hours a day, 7 days a week” to “deliver high quality care”, referencing that “outcomes for patients were positive, consistent, and met expectations.”

Staff at DLRAA were seen to work well together and were encouraged to influence both clinical and operational practice for the benefit of its patients, actively participating in research and work on public and preventative health initiatives, like its knife crime campaign.

People were seen to be truly respected and valued as individuals and were empowered as partners in their care both at the time of the incident and in its aftermath, where the charity was seen to provide exceptional emotional support to patients, families, and carers – the services’ dedicated Clinical Liaison Officer role exemplified this.

Feedback from those using the service was recognised as continually positive with a strong visible person-centred culture where staff treated them with kindness, respect, and dignity. The service’s patients informed the CQC of feeling “looked after superbly, with “care and support exceeding expectations” as well as referring to staff having “an unbelievable level of knowledge”.

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The CQC also describes the organisation’s leaders as having “high levels of experience, capacity and capability” as well demonstrating “clear priorities for ensuring sustainable, compassionate, inclusive and effective leadership.”

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 emergency and urgent care we deliver every single day.

“Having recently joined the charity, I have already 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 generous people who support us by volunteering, leaving a legacy, fundraising, visiting our stores, or sharing their story – this success is a credit to everyone.”

The service was also found to have a clear vision and a set of values both of which had quality and sustainability as top priorities which aligned to the wider health economy.

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The report highlighted that the service was inclusive and took account of patients’ individual needs and preferences, making reasonable accessibility adjustments for its patients, including making sure patients living with mental ill health, learning difficulties, neurodiversity or dementia received the necessary care to meet their needs, and a 24/7 telephone translation services for crews so patients, loved ones and carers could get help from interpreters.

The vital service has been serving its communities across Derbyshire, Leicestershire, Rutland and further afield, when called upon, for 15 years, providing the highest standard of critical care within minutes to those in greatest need.

DLRAA 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 the full report, please follow the link: https://theairambulanceservice.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2023/11/CQC-Inspection-November-2023-DLRAA-Base.pdf.

For further information or to request interviews please contact: Camilla Raca (Communications Manager) or Leanne Fitches (Press Officer) via [email protected].