Yorkshire Ambulance Service Trust has been told to improve following a Care Quality Commission inspection.

The inspection in January noted there had been a history of executive level changes at the trust- the chief executive left shortly before the CQC inspection.

The service was rated as “requires improvement” overall. It was rated “good” for caring.  

The service had below national average performance in the two main response targets – red 1 and red 2 – and an “increased number of complaints” which were not responded to within the trust’s 25 day target.

There was a history of poor relationships between senior management and frontline staff.

New rotas and meal breaks had recently been introduced and had a “further negative impact on relationships”.

Staff at the service staged several strikes throughout 2014 over changes in shift patterns.  

There were “significant concerns” about the hazardous area response team’s checking of equipment. Equipment was found to have passed its expiry date and there were “inconsistencies” in the checking of breathing apparatus.

Some pieces of equipment had not been fully charged and so would not have been ready for use.

The inspectors were able to walk into one ambulance station without being challenged and had “open access” to the ambulances in the parking bay.

The cleanliness of all ambulances across the region was a concern.

The trust had “major difficulties” in recruiting staff due to a national shortage of paramedics. This affected the service’s ability to be “responsive” and to allow staff to attend mandatory training.

There were several areas of “outstanding” practice, including the trust’s “Restart a Heart” campaign which had trained 12,000 school students how to perform cardiopulmonary resuscitation.

The trust’s 1,055-strong volunteer team was also highlighted for praise, as was mental health nurses’ work in the emergency operations centre to support patients requiring crisis and mental health support.

Chief executive Rod Barnes said: “The report recognises the challenges we and services nationally face in recruiting and training sufficient staff numbers to meet rising levels of demand and the pressures this places on existing staff and response times.

“However, we clearly recognise that we have more work to do in some areas. The CQC highlighted specific concerns about equipment and consumables in the hazardous area response team and these were addressed immediately during the inspection. The inspectors revisited the unit in January and found that the necessary action had been taken.”