‘CQC facing mounting backlog of CQC ambulance inspections” – Larry Society

Monday, 02 November, 2015


A report published today (2 November 2015) by The Larrey Society, the cross-sector “think tank” for emergency medical services

contains disturbing statistics which question the efficiency and effectiveness of the Care Quality Commission’s regulatory inspection of ambulance services.

The key points of the report, based on Freedom of Information data provided by the CQC and the conclusions of the Society’s own research are:

  • The CQC faces a mounting backlog of inspections with 1 in 3 of the 333 providers registered to run ambulance services having never had an inspection.  Seven of these providers have been waiting since 2012 or earlier, including one who registered in 2010.
  • Ambulance personnel in the NHS, private and voluntary sectors, had generally a negative view when asked if CQC inspections were effective in finding out if the provider is safe and effective; less than 4 out of 10 agreed they asked the right things and there was a strong belief that  the inspections should be routinely carried out unannounced and the inspectors should make a point to randomly talk with selected staff members from the front line, rather than relying on chosen staff or management;


  • 14 providers have been subject to enforced deregistration to stop them operating but in 2015, for the first time, a new applicant has had their application refused.

The inspections are carried out to check that the ambulance providers are: Safe, Effective, Caring, Responsive and Well-led and they are then judged as Outstanding, Good, Requires Improvement, or Inadequate

As one respondent to the Society’s research is quoted as saying:

“CQC day is like when your relatives come round for Christmas. Everything is tidied away and    ridiculously clean. You're all told to be on your best behaviour and not to say boo to a goose until they've gone or else!”

The Larrey Society strongly supports the principle of an effective regulator helping to make sure that services are safe and effective, and urges the CQC to:

  • Clear the backlog of uninspected providers as a matter of urgency
  • Ensure that all new providers are inspected within six months of registration, or earlier
  • Look to ensure that all providers are inspected at least annually
  • Accelerate the roll-out of the new inspection format, to increase industry confidence
  • Move to a system of more unannounced inspections
  • Engage more with front line staff during inspections – selected at random
  • Look to clamp down on event ambulance providers exploiting a loophole, but providing registerable services
  • Start to tighten the inspection regime, with more enforcement, rather than warnings

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