CONCERNS have been raised about ‘ambiguous’ safeguarding practices at an ambulance service.

South Central Ambulance Service (SCAS), which operates throughout Hampshire, was recently inspected by the Care Quality Commission (CQC) – with inspectors specifically looking at safeguarding.

However, inspectors found that safeguarding policies were ‘ambiguous or incorrect’ with issues not always being identified.

SCAS is now in the process of ensuring adequate safeguarding is in place – and will have to show progress to Hampshire County Council next week.

Amanda Williams, who led the CQC inspection, said: "The policy statements were not deliverable due to the size of the region covered by the trust and the limited resources within the safeguarding team.

"For example, the safeguarding adult policy contained out of date references such as to the domestic abuse definition from the Home Office (2013) rather than referencing the Domestic Abuse Act (2021).

"This meant the policy was not using current legislation as a basis from which to protect people from harm."

Inspectors also found that no official safeguarding meetings had been held by the ambulance service in the past year.

Allegedly a meeting was held on April 22 last year, but no minutes for the meeting have been produced.

SCAS will go before the county council’s health and adult social care select committee on Tuesday, July 5, where executives are expected to update councillors and health bosses on the changes being made.

In a report to the committee, the county council’s chief executive Carolyn Williamson said: "The health and adult social care select committee has the remit within the Hampshire County Council constitution for the scrutiny of the provision and operation of health services in Hampshire.

"Health scrutiny is a fundamental way by which democratically elected local councillors are able to voice the views of their constituents, and hold relevant NHS bodies and relevant health service providers to account.

"The primary aim of health scrutiny is to act as a lever to improve the health of local people, ensuring their needs are considered as an integral part of the commissioning, delivery and development of health services."

A spokesman for SCAS said: "The CQC’s inspection found that patients using SCAS services were safeguarded and referrals were appropriate but it also highlighted some areas of governance and training which require focus and improvement.

"SCAS takes this feedback very seriously and had commenced a review prior to the inspection, including the resourcing of the safeguarding team and the way we manage safeguarding.

"We took immediate action and provided assurance to the CQC and our commissioners that all concerns raised were being addressed and many have already been resolved, but our discussions with the CQC and the work in this area is ongoing and we welcome the CQC’s input to help us improve our services.

"We are confident the additional measures we are implementing will ensure safeguarding continues to be a high priority in SCAS and the additional focus and resources will enable us to better support our colleagues across our local safeguarding boards effectively."