A PRIVATELY-RUN ambulance service based in Basingstoke has been suspended after a damning report found it was not safe.

Southern Country Ambulance Service was rated as Inadequate for being safe, effective and well-led, It was rated Requires Improvement for being responsive, and Good for being caring, following an inspection in July 2019.

The firm provides a patient transport service to privately funded and NHS patients, primarily in the south of England.

Following this inspection, CQC urgently suspended the service to ensure people were not at the risk of harm. After the suspension period, the provider voluntarily cancelled its registration with CQC and stopped providing regulated activity.

The service was last inspected in November 2016. At the time of inspection CQC did not have a legal duty to rate independent ambulance services.

CQC’s Deputy Chief Inspector of Hospitals, Nigel Acheson, said: “Our inspectors found the provider had not taken action or made improvements to a number of areas we highlighted in our last inspection to ensure staff and patients were safe.

“We found that the service put people at the risk of harm. Staff caring for patients had not completed mandatory training to safely carry out essential tasks.

“The provider had not completed recruitment checks to assess employees’ good character, skills and knowledge for the role. There was also a lack of competency assessment and supervision of staff to ensure care was being delivered in line with company protocols and national guidelines.

“There was evidence to show that staff were not aware of and did not follow guidelines on how to administer medical gases. Patient risk assessments were not always documented or shared with staff caring for the patient.

“Our inspection findings evidence that patients were at immediate risk of harm, and as such we took the decision to urgently suspend the service to allow the provider to take action on our findings. Since then, the provider has taken the decision to cancel their registration with CQC and to stop providing their services as a patient transport system.”

The full inspection report is published on CQC’s website: https://www.cqc.org.uk/location/1-2208432161/reports