The NHS 111 South West service, which provides urgent health advice for Bristol, North Somerset, South Gloucestershire, Gloucestershire and Somerset, has become the first 111 service in England to be rated overall ‘Outstanding’ by the Care Quality Commission (CQC).
The rating puts the service’s Bristol contact centre, run by Care UK, which supports a population of 2.2 million people, at the very top of the regulator’s quality ratings across England. Only the top six per cent of institutions offering urgent advice or care in the country have been awarded the exceptional ‘Outstanding’ rating by the quality watchdog.
CQC found three of the five individual areas inspected to be ‘Outstanding’ – safety, effectiveness and being well-led – and two other to be ‘Good’ – responsiveness and being caring, contributing to the overall ‘Outstanding’ rating.
In their report, the CQC inspectors found many areas of innovation and outstanding practice including:
- A safeguarding hub (to improve referrals for children and adults in need or at risk of abuse)
- A high priority placed on staff wellbeing (the implementation of resources to improve the working environment)
- A pilot of the use of specialist mental health nurses within the service to cover gaps in wider service provision for vulnerable adults
- The PUFFIN system (a live system to manage urgent communications between services)
- DCRASH (a handover tool that is used to ensure effective and seamless telephone handovers from non-clinical to clinical staff)
The CQC inspectors said: “There was a strong focus on staff wellbeing. For example, implementation of resources to improve the working environment such as equipment, apps and a six week induction period in the foundation bay. The introduction of the foundation bay for new health advisors had improved staff competencies and job retention”.
The CQC inspectors went on to say: “The implementation of a safeguarding hub, accessible 24 hours a day, improved referrals for children and adults in need or at risk of abuse, had increased referrals, improved non-clinical and clinical handovers, improved clinical availability during peak service demand and, crucially, ensured follow-up for serious concerns to assure the service action had been taken”.
Anthony Goodwin, Clinical Lead and Deputy Call Centre Manager at the NHS 111 South West service said: “We are an innovative group who share learnings and help support patients as best we can. We work closely with out-of-hours providers to ensure patients get the right referral first time”.
He added: “However, the biggest thing for me is that the CQC inspectors saw the staff go the extra mile. We’re like a big family here and to be the first ‘Outstanding’ 111 service in England is a reflection of the consistently high standards of care and professionalism displayed by my colleagues every day.”
Dr Lesley Ward, Local GP and Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire CCG Clinical Lead for Urgent Care, said: “Care UK has been instrumental in helping up us to deliver a more joined up service to patients by transforming the current NHS 111 and GP out-of-hours services to have a single integrated service for the local population.
“To be the first 111 service in England to receive the ‘Outstanding’ rating is an exceptional achievement and a perfect example of how we’re working hard to shape better health for the people of Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire.”
Care UK provides the NHS 111 service in 11 English regions. NHS 111 South West, like Care UK’s ten other 111 services, ensures people with urgent healthcare needs get the right care for their condition, when they need it, by bringing together out-of-hospital services and a hub of expert clinicians behind the existing NHS 111 number.
Patients can call 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, and calls are free from landlines and mobile phones. The NHS 111 service should be used if patients urgently need medical help or advice in a non-life-threatening situation. In an emergency, always dial 999.
Jim Easton, Chief Executive of Care UK Health Care, commented: “I hope patients and local residents are delighted to be able to celebrate a national first at our Bristol contact centre and I’d like to congratulate my colleagues at NHS 111 South West for this superb achievement".
"NHS 111 South West joins four other Care UK Healthcare services with ‘Outstanding’ ratings including Shepton Mallet NHS Treatment Centre, in Somerset, who were the first surgical hospital in England to receive an overall ‘Outstanding’ with a clean sweep of ‘Outstanding’ ratings in every element of the inspection grading. This latest assessment continues to emphasise our ongoing commitment to providing best in class, high-quality treatment to our patients”.