HAMPSHIRE'S ambulance service has suspended a private firm which it uses after the company was rated 'inadequate' by health watchdogs.

South Central Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust (SCAS) said it will not use Fareham-based SSG UK Specialist Ambulance Service until faults highlighted in a report by the Care Quality Commission (CQC) are resolved.

SSG was placed in special measures by the CQC after being rated as 'inadequate.'

A team of CQC visited SSG's Wickham Road base in August and September in response to concerns received relating to medicines, staffing, overall management of the service and an ambulance being involved in a road traffic collision.

CQC Deputy Chief Inspector of Hospitals, Dr Nigel Acheson, said: "We were extremely concerned at the disconnect we identified between the senior team and the staff working on the frontline.

"We saw no sign of a clear vision and strategy and a lack of response to the concerns we had previously raised.

“On the basis of this inspection, we have placed this provider into special measures."

SSG will now be inspected again within six months.

A spokesperson from SSG UK said: “Since July 2017 we have improved management practices and operating procedures and following the CQC inspection in August this year we have focused our efforts on improving the service in Fareham.

"Our priority now is to continue to work closely with the CQC inspectors to resolve any remaining problems in Fareham and we are confident that the actions we have taken so far, together with further actions planned, will help us restore full CQC regulators’ confidence in SSGUK Specialist Ambulance Service."

SCAS says "The suspension will remain in place until SCAS has revisited SSG to assure ourselves that any issues have been resolved in order to maintain a safe level of care to our patients."

The ambulance trust said it used a number of private providers to meet the required level of emergency cover whenever unforeseen circumstances arise and SSG only provided "a small part" of its emergency 999 service, that will be covered by other providers during the suspension.