Air Ambulance Kent Surrey Sussex rated Outstanding by CQC

Air Ambulance Kent Surrey Sussex (KSS) has been rated outstanding by the Care Quality Commission (CQC) across all five of its inspection key lines of enquiry – a level only achieved by a very small proportion of the UK’s CQC-inspected healthcare organisations. It is the first Helicopter Emergency Medical Service to achieve this top rating in all categories/ key lines of enquiry.

Inspectors rated KSS, a registered charity, as outstanding for being safe, effective, caring, responsive and well-led – the five key areas which form the framework of the inspection. While KSS has been registered since 2011 this is this first time the regulations have allowed the CQC to give a rating.

The CQC report highlights a wide range of outstanding practices at KSS, including the service’s ‘strong leadership’, ‘thoroughly patient focused team,’ ‘open culture to reporting all types of incidents,’ ‘highly motivated staff’ and ‘strong, comprehensive systems and processes.’

KSS’s collaboration with local, national and international partner organisations to help improve services to patients was also singled out. Inspectors praised KSS’s engagement with its partners such as local NHS trusts and the Ministry of Defence.

They also noted that the continuing development of staff skills, competence and knowledge was ‘integral to ensuring high quality care’. All staff were ‘actively involved in activities to monitor and improve quality and outcomes’ and there was a focus on ‘openness, transparency and learning.’

The inspectors were impressed by KSS’s continual focus on the ‘safe use of innovative and pioneering approaches to care.’ This included the service’s research into new methods of treatments and innovative ways to make patient information more easily available to all staff providing care in order to deliver more efficient and cohesive treatment and care of patients.

David Welch, Chief Executive of KSS, said, “Receiving an outstanding rating from the CQC across the board is testament to the dedication and commitment of our exceptional team, who work tirelessly to ensure the right treatments and best possible outcomes for our patients. My sincere thanks go to every single member of Team KSS – staff, volunteers, partners and stakeholders – all of whom have contributed to this amazing achievement.

“I am incredibly proud and privileged to lead our outstanding team who show an exceptional commitment to our patients and to supporting one another ‘the KSS Way’ with people at the heart of everything we do. Our health service is currently faced with an unprecedented challenge and we are exploring new ways that we can best deploy our experience, expertise and resources to support the NHS and the wider community at such a critical time.”

Operating out of Redhill Aerodrome and headquartered in Rochester, KSS provides world-leading pre-hospital emergency care. Covering Kent, Surrey and Sussex, KSS serves a population of 4.8m plus those who travel through the area – one of the busiest in the UK. Its crews of pilots, doctors and paramedics fly over 2500 missions a year, and it was the first, and only, UK air ambulance to operate its helicopters 24/7. Of the more than £14m needed to sustain the service each year, 89% is raised by public donation and fundraising.