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Care Quality Commission

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. Whilst KSS has been registered since 2011 this is this first time the regulations have allowed the CQC to give a rating.

What is the CQC?

The CQC make sure health and social care services provide people with safe, effective, compassionate, high-quality care and we encourage care services to improve. The CQC is the independent regulator of all health and social services in England. The inspection was carried out at KSS’s Redhill Aerodrome premises in January 2020. A copy of the CQC report is available at www.cqc.org.uk.

The Care Quality Commission examined five set questions in relation to KSS. Its findings include:

Are emergency and urgent care services safe?

KSS - Rated Outstanding

"There were clearly defined and embedded systems, processes and standard operating procedures to keep people safe and safeguarded from abuse" - CQC


• The design, maintenance and use of facilities, premises, vehicles and equipment was innovative and kept people safe.

• A proactive approach to anticipating and managing risks to people who used services was recognised as being the responsibility of all staff.

• The service had enough staff with the right qualifications, skills, training and experience to keep patients safe from avoidable harm and to provide the right care and treatment.

• There was a genuinely open culture in which all safety concerns raised by staff and people who use the service were highly valued as integral to learning and improvement.

• There was ongoing, consistent progress towards safety goals reflected in a zero-harm culture.

Are emergency and urgent care services effective?

KSS - Rated Outstanding

"There was a truly holistic approach to assessing, planning and delivering care and treatment to people who used the service.
There was a safe use of innovative and pioneering approaches to care. New evidence-based techniques and technologies were used to support the delivery of high-quality care." - CQC


• All staff were actively engaged in activities to monitor and improve quality and outcomes. Opportunities to participate in benchmarking, peer review, accreditation and research were proactively pursued. High performance was recognised by credible external bodies.

• The continuing development of staff skills, competence and knowledge was recognised as being integral to ensuring high quality care.

• Staff supported patients to make informed decisions about their care and treatment.

Are emergency and urgent care services caring?

KSS - Rated Outstanding

“Patients said staff treated them well and with kindness. One patient told us although they do not recall much of their care due to the nature of their injuries they did remember one of the crew holding their hand in the aircraft which they said reassured them.” - CQC


• People were truly respected and valued as individuals. There was a strong, visible person-centred culture.

• People thought that staff went the extra mile and the care they received exceeded their expectations. Staff were highly motivated and inspired to offer care that was kind and promoted people’s dignity.

• People’s emotional and social needs were highly valued by staff and were embedded in their care and treatment.

• People who use services were active partners in their care. Staff were fully committed to working in partnership with people. Staff always empowered people who use the service to have a voice and to realise their potential. Staff highly valued the patient’s relatives and those close to them.

Are emergency and urgent care services well-led?

KSS - Rated Outstanding

“The service had strong leadership that supported their staff and created a culture supporting a thoroughly patient focused team.” - CQC


• Leaders had an inspiring shared purpose, strove to deliver and motivate staff to succeed. Leaders had the skills and abilities to run the service. They understood and managed the priorities and issues the service faced. They were visible and approachable in the service for patients and staff. They supported staff to develop their
skills and take on more senior roles.


• There was a strong culture that was centred on the needs of patients. Managers across the service promoted a positive culture that supported and valued staff, creating a sense of common purpose based on shared values to deliver high quality person centred care.

• All staff were committed to continually learning and improving services. The leadership drove continuous improvement and staff were accountable for delivering change. Safe innovation was celebrated. There was a clear proactive approach to seeking out and embedding
new and more sustainable models of care. Leaders
encouraged innovation and participation in research.

Are emergency and urgent care services responsive?

KSS - Rated Outstanding

“The involvement of other organisations and the local
community was integral to how services were planned
and ensured that services met the needs of local
people and the communities served.” - CQC


• It works with others in the wider system and local, national and international organisations to plan care.

• People’s individual needs and preferences were central to the planning and delivery of tailored services.

• People could access the service when they needed it and received the right care in a timely way. The service had developed innovative ways to improve the access people had to the service.

• The service treated concerns and complaints seriously,
investigated them and shared lessons learned with all staff,
including those in partner organisations.

All patients we spoke to were overwhelmingly positive about the care that they had received. When talking about their feelings about the way the crew looked after them one patient told us “they are true superheroes."

The Care Quality CommissionKSS CQC Report 2020

Click the image below to download the full CQC Report