Published: 00:01, 15 August 2019
| Updated: 07:44, 15 August 2019
Kent's troubled ambulance service will finally be taken out of special measures for the first time since 2016 after an inspection by the health watchdog.
A team of inspectors from the Care Quality Commission (CQC) visited South East Coast Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust (Secamb) in June and July to assess the quality of its core services.
These include emergency operations centres, emergency and urgent care and the trust's out of hours and NHS 111 services, while health chiefs also looked specifically at management and leadership to answer the key question: 'Is the trust well-led'?
Secamb was rated 'good' overall and for providing safe, effective, caring, responsive and well-led services.
Previously the trust was rated as 'requires improvement'.
It also received 'outstanding' ratings for caring and for its Urgent and Emergency Care service.
England's chief inspector of hospitals, professor Ted Baker, said: "I am pleased to find Secamb has made excellent progress.
"The trust has embedded the improvements our inspectors saw at our last inspection in November 2018 and has also met the requirements we asked for.
“Nearly three years ago, we rated the trust as inadequate overall because of concerns relating to patient safety, the organisational culture and governance.
"Since that time, we have been back twice to inspect and continued to monitor the trust closely.
"The credit must go to the hard work and commitment of the staff and the current leadership team... I congratulate them on their achievements" - Ted Baker
“The credit must go to the hard work and commitment of the staff and the current leadership team. I congratulate them on their achievements.
"The overall rating of good reflects a substantial improvement in the quality of services at the trust and I am happy to recommend that it is removed from special measures."
This latest report comes after a difficult few years for the trust in which a number of senior figures have departed amid concerns over a bullying culture, which inspectors found "no longer existed to the extent it had previously".
Secamb's acting Chief Executive Dr Fionna Moore said: “This positive report is testament to the huge amount of work that has been ongoing at Secamb for the past couple of years.
"I am delighted, but not surprised, that staff have been recognised for the fantastic care they provide to patients and pleased that the big improvements we have made as a trust during the past couple of years have been acknowledged.”