A HAMPSHIRE ambulance provider has retained its ‘good’ rating following the latest inspection carried out by care industry watchdogs.

A report by the Care Quality Commission (CQC) highlights the improvements that continue to be made by South Central Ambulance Service (SCAS), which serves a population of more than seven million across the south.

The report describes SCAS as a well-led organisation.

Its overall rating of ‘good’ reflects the quality of its services. Inspectors use the same word when describing SCAS as being safe, effective and responsive to people’s needs.

One of the report’s key findings is that response rates to 999 calls have improved.

Inspectors also praise the compassion shown by staff, saying they treat patients with dignity and respect.

The report adds that managers at all levels have the right skills and abilities to run the service and provide high-quality, sustainable care.

The outcome of the inspection was welcomed today by Will Hancock, chief executive of the South Central Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust.

He said: “At a time when pressure on all our services continues to rise, I would like to thank all our staff and volunteers for their commitment, dedication and hard work, which have been recognised in the latest CQC inspection.

“Inspectors have also recognised the improvements made to services and the success we have had in recruiting more staff, despite considerable challenges.

“It is particularly pleasing that staff told the CQC they felt supported, valued and respected.

“Today’s report recognises that we consistently deliver safe, patient-centred care across all our services.

“I am proud to lead an organisation with such a culture of continuous improvement and one where delivering the very best care for every patient is at the heart of what every one of my colleagues does day in, day out.”

Wrexham, United Kingdom - August 30, 2016: Bonnet of an emergency service ambulance on a street in Wales. Elevated point of view, with copy space. Wrexham, United Kingdom - August 30, 2016: Bonnet of an emergency service ambulance on a street in Wales. Elevated point of view, with copy space.

The report was also welcomed by Professor Helen Young, executive director of patient care and service transformation.

She said: “I am delighted the CQC report confirms we are making great progress on our journey of continuous improvement.

“It was particularly pleasing to see the inspectors identified a number of areas of outstanding practice, such as our pioneering Falls and Frailty Service partnerships which help keep frail and elderly patients out of hospital, and the well-established Bright Ideas scheme.

“Under the scheme, innovations such as our trauma app and clinical pathways app have helped deliver real benefits.”

SCAS, which employs 3,300 staff, serves Hampshire and five other counties – Berkshire, Buckinghamshire, Oxfordshire, Surrey and Sussex.

In 2017-18 it took 1,284,974 calls to the NHS 111 number – one every 24 seconds – as well as attending 567,219 emergency 999 incidents, which worked out at more than one a minute.

The service also completed 873,922 patient transport service journeys, covering a total of 10.5 million miles in the process.