The CQC said inspectors were concerned about the NWAS staffing levels and vacancy rates
The Care Quality Commission (CQC) said inspections of North West Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust (NWAS) raised concerns about staffing levels and vacancy rates, especially in Cumbria, safety issues and how complaints are dealt with.
The trust is rated Requires Improvement on safety, leadership and emergency and urgent care services and Good for being effective, caring and responsive.
The NWAS, which covers Greater Manchester, Merseyside, Lancashire and Cumbria, operates around 1,000 vehicles on both emergency and non-emergency operations, receiving more than 1.3 million 999 calls each year and facing "increased pressure" on its services.
CQC carried out an announced inspection at the trust between May 23 and 26, and an unannounced inspection on June 6, both last year.
The NWAS are faced with 'increased pressure' with just 1,000 vehicles for 4 mass areas in the UK
The inspection took place almost 10 months ago and the majority of the points highlighted have already been addressed
Derek Cartwright, NWAS Chief Executive
The Chief Inspector of Hospitals, Professor Sir Mike Richards, said: "Inspectors found a number of improvements were needed at North West Ambulance Service NHS Trust.
"The overall vacancy rate for the trust was 5.7 per cent at the time of the inspection.
"The trust had already employed 35 new European paramedics in Greater Manchester at the time of our inspection.
The trust employed 35 new European paramedics in Greater Manchester at the time of the inspection
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"There were plans to recruit a further 36 with 24 of these being appointed to North Cumbria.
"There were concerns surrounding staff training and whether the service had enough staff to meet the needs of the service and patients.
NWAS chief executive Mr Cartwright: The trust has now improved 10 months on from the CQC inspection
"There were also concerns surrounding how safeguarding issues and incidents were reported, and the communication around complaints to the service.
"It is vital that a busy service like NWAS has sufficient numbers of staff with the requisite knowledge and skills to meet patients' needs and we will be monitoring the trust's progress in securing additional staff as a matter of priority."
NWAS chief executive Derek Cartwright said: "Our staff work hard every day to do the very best they can for patients – from saving lives to offering comfort to relatives, and they should be very proud that this has been recognised.
"We accept the comments in the report relating to improvements required for procedures, guidelines and training, however the inspection took place almost 10 months ago and the majority of the points highlighted have already been addressed.
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"The last 12 months have been extremely challenging for the organisation with unprecedented demand for our services, and it is unfortunate that by not reviewing policies and guidelines as often as we should, we are in the position we are now.
"We are determined to right this as soon as possible and ensure that staff are given adequate time to complete their mandatory training."