|South Central Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust|
|Type||NHS foundation trust|
|Established||1 July 2006|
|Chief executive||Will Hancock|
The South Central Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust (SCAS) is the ambulance service for the counties of Berkshire, Buckinghamshire, Oxfordshire and Hampshire.[note 1] It is a foundation trust of the National Health Service, and one of ten NHS ambulance trusts in England.
As an ambulance service, SCAS primarily responds to emergency 999 calls, in addition to calls from the NHS non-emergency number, 111. These services are provided in an area that roughly covers the counties of Buckinghamshire, Oxfordshire, Berkshire and Hampshire. The exceptions are North East Hampshire which is served by South East Coast Ambulance Service (SECAmb) and the Shrivenham area of Oxfordshire, which is served by South Western Ambulance Service (SWAS).
The service also provides an emergency transport service for patients in life-threatening condition and a non-emergency patient transport service (NEPTS). The NEPTS transports patients unable to use public transport due to their medical conditions, patients using outpatient clinics and patients being admitted or discharged from hospital. The trust also has a commercial division, which provides first aid training to members of the public, a community equipment service and logistic services. Since 2017, SCAS has also run the NEPTS in Sussex and Surrey, within the South East Coast ambulance area.
It has a resilience and specialist operations department which plans for major or hazardous incidents. This includes a Hazardous Area Response Team (HART), which responds to emergencies involving chemical, biological, radiological or nuclear materials, as well as major incidents. The trust also trains and supports volunteer community first responders (CFR).
The service is supported by its own League of Friends, a registered charity. The South Central Ambulance League of Friends raises funds that are used to enhance the standard of care for patients, provide additional benefits for service personnel, encourage the acquisition of essential life-support skills among the public, and support the deployment of volunteer community first responders. This group had been founded in 1982 to raise funds for the former Oxfordshire Ambulance NHS Trust.
SCAS supplements deployment with co-responders from both the Fire Service, Police and British Armed Forces who combined with CFR volunteers attended 35,716 emergency incidents in the 2020/2021 period.
In addition, SCAS has close operational relations with both Hampshire and Isle of Wight Air Ambulance and Thames Valley Air Ambulance who both provide charitable critical care services. This is further supported by the UK BASICS sceme that has operational volunteers across the south central region providing enhanced critical care clinicians.
SCAS continues to have close working relations with the Isle of Wight NHS Trust by directly supporting their 999 and Ambulance operations.
South Central Ambulance Service NHS Trust was formed on 1 July 2006, following the merger of the Royal Berkshire Ambulance Service NHS Trust, the Hampshire Ambulance Service NHS Trust, the Oxfordshire Ambulance NHS Trust, and part of the Two Shires Ambulance NHS Trust. The trust achieved Foundation status on 1 March 2012, becoming known as South Central Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust.
In June 2011 it was named England's top performing ambulance service, managing to respond to 77.5% of Category A calls within the 8-minute target time, compared to the national average of 74.9%. In October 2011, the BBC discovered that SCAS spent more on private ambulance services to cover 999 calls than any other service in the country.
On 1 March 2012, the trust became an NHS foundation trust.
In October 2013, the trust accidentally published on its website a document listing the age, sexuality and religion of all its 2,826 staff.
SCAS took over patient transport services in Hampshire in October 2014. In 2014, the trust held a recruitment drive in Poland to help fill vacancies. On 1 November 2016, it was announced that the trust would take over the running of NEPTS in the south-east of England from April 2017. The service had previously been run by South East Coast Ambulance Service until 1 April 2016, when it had been taken over by Coperforma, a private-sector provider which had been unable to provide a satisfactory level of service.
In 2015, the trust established a subsidiary company, South Central Fleet Services Ltd, to which 41 estates and facilities staff were transferred. The intention was to achieve VAT benefits, as well as pay bill savings, by recruiting new staff on less expensive non-NHS contracts. VAT benefits arise because NHS trusts can only claim VAT back on a small subset of goods and services they buy. The Value Added Tax Act 1994 provides a mechanism through which NHS trusts can qualify for refunds on contracted out services.
In 2020 SCAS set up and ran the National Covid Response Service (CRS), a public telephone advice line in response to the Covid19 pandemic. SCAS call takers answered around 2.5m calls in the first two recognised waves of the outbreak in the UK. This was later accompanied by the vaccine booking and advice service which has taken over 5.5m calls and booked 2.2m appointments.
In late 2021 and into 2022 SCAS experienced continued high patient demand on its 111 and 999 services. This was highlighted by SCAS declaring a critical incident on 31 October 2021 due to an "overwhelming" number of emergency calls, on 18 February 2022 due to storm Eunice,  and for a third time on 6 April 2022 due to extreme pressures across the service.
Performance of SCAS is provided by national NHS England Ambulance Quality Indicators. In February 2016:
In 2019, the Care Quality Commission reported that ambulance services were relying on private providers because of lack of capacity. The trust spent more than £15 million in 2018/9 on private ambulances and taxis, which dealt with 989,811 999 incidents, an increase from 917,521 the previous year.
In its last inspection of the service in March 2020, the Care Quality Commission (CQC) gave the following ratings on a scale of outstanding (the service is performing exceptionally well), good (the service is performing well and meeting our expectations), requires improvement (the service isn't performing as well as it should) and inadequate (the service is performing badly):
|Area||Rating 2016||Rating 2018||Rating 2020|
|Are services Safe?||Good||Good||Good|
|Are services Effective?||Requires improvement||Good||Good|
|Are services Caring||Good||Good||Good|
|Are services Responsive||Good||Good||Good|
|Are services Well-led||Good||Good||Good|