Prince William today praised the “dedication and hard work” of London Ambulance Service staff as it was lifted out of “special measures” after two-and-a-half years.
The LAS was rated “good” by the Care Quality Commission, the second highest rating, with frontline staff commended for continuing to provide “outstanding” care, the highest score.
LAS chief executive Garrett Emmerson said the day-to-day improvements observed by the CQC meant the country’s biggest ambulance service was better prepared than ever to cope with major incidents and terror attacks.
The Duke of Cambridge, in a video message for last night’s LAS annual staff awards, said: “The past year has been incredibly challenging for the city but has highlighted the vast experience and knowledge you all bring to your work, and the vital role that you play in providing compassion, commitment and empathy to Londoners every single day.”
The LAS became the first ambulance service in the country to be rated “inadequate” in November 2015, which led to it being placed in special measures. This was because of dire staff shortages and concerns about its ability to cope with a terrorist attack. Last year the rating improved to “requires improvement”.
Mr Emmerson said it was aiming for an overall rating of “outstanding” as he credited thousands of staff, including many “unsung heroes” behind the scenes.
He told the Standard: “We are better than we were before. We are a much more capable organisation in terms of capacity and capability. Will that result in a further improvement in our ability to respond to major incidents? I’m sure it will.”
Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt, who also released a video message today, said it had been “incredibly humbling” to learn of the bravery shown by LAS staff who ran into danger during last year’s London Bridge terror attacks.
He said: “It’s very tough at the moment on the front line, [there’s] huge demand from patients, but the fact that you have achieved this shows that the impossible can happen.”
Professor Ted Baker, England’s chief inspector of hospitals, said: “The improvements the leadership and staff of London Ambulance Service have made are especially commendable – and especially necessary – given the major incidents the trust has responded to over the past year, including terrorist attacks and the Grenfell Tower tragedy.”