PERFORMANCE: The Care Quality Commission has published its first inspection report for an ambulance trust.

The watchdog found that North West Ambulance Service Trust provided safe and effective services which were well led with a “focus on quality”. As the first ambulance trust to be inspected under the CQC’s new intensive inspection approach, it has not been rated.

Inspectors spent four days visiting the trust in August, inspecting 50 of its 100 ambulance stations and visiting local accident and emergency and outpatient departments to talk to patients and staff about their experience of the service.

They found that patients were “overwhelmingly positive” about the quality of their care, and ambulance staff consistently showed a “caring, committed and compassionate manner”.

However the regulator pointed out variations in some areas of performance relative to other trusts.

The trust was second best in the country for getting patients to a hyper acute stroke centre within one hour of the original 999 call.

But the CQC also found it was the most likely trust in the country to send an ambulance rather than deal with callers through alternative solutions.

It urged NWAS to improve in this area, as well as working on getting the most appropriate vehicle to patients and making sure staff received appropriate supervision and appraisal.

Sir Mike Richards, the CQC’s chief inspector of hospitals, said: “Overall, we found services provided by North West Ambulance Service Trust were safe, well led with a focus on quality.

“Although it did achieve all key national ambulance targets for response times last year, I note that the picture has been mixed so far this year. In terms of clinical quality, and patient outcomes, I am sure that NWAS will keep a close watch on its performance against the other ambulance trusts, to understand how it can improve its service to patients.

“While I can only commend the staff for their dedication and effort, I will continue to watch their progress in these areas.”

NWAS chief executive, Bob Williams, said it was “very heartening” that the CQC has observed delivery of “care to a high standard with compassion and empathy”.

“It is fantastic to receive this external endorsement and recognition of best practice as well as an understanding of the challenges we face which we will use to underpin our improvement plans,” he added.