An ambulance service has been issued with a warning after a health watchdog found it was failing to protect its patients from infections, it was revealed today.
Inspectors from the Care Quality Commission said they found "dirty" vehicles and that staff for the East of England Ambulance Service were "unsure" about preventing infection.
The region's ambulance service said it had launched an "urgent and comprehensive review of its ambulance cleaning programme" after the watchdog ordered it to improve measures to prevent infections.
The CQC report said: "On inspection, we found evidence that the trust has breached the regulation to protect patients, workers and others from the risks of acquiring a healthcare-associated infection."
During an unannounced inspection of seven of the trust's 100 ambulance stations and an ambulance depot, inspectors found that the patient-carrying vehicles were "dirty" and seats were "grimy".
"All of the patient-carrying vehicles that were seen were dirty," the report said.
"The surfaces within the vehicles were dirty and there was dust, dirt and debris inside all accessible cupboards.
"Seats were grimy and high levels of dirt and dust were seen in gaps beside seats, in seams of seats and on gel dispensers, window sills and patient carrying equipment.
"During our visit, staff were unsure of basic measures for infection prevention and control such as uniform washing, decontamination of equipment, waste and linen management, and the guidance on dress code.
"The trust's board is not receiving information to provide assurance of effective infection prevention and control practices."
The service, which covers Essex, Suffolk, Norfolk, Cambridgeshire, Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire, said it was taking the report "extremely seriously" and plans to make immediate improvements.
"The safety of both our patients and staff is an absolute priority to us and we are putting a number of measures in place to ensure that our ambulances meet the highest standards of cleanliness," said Dr Scott Turner, one of the service's joint medical directors.
"With so many stations and a service that covers six counties and 7,500 square miles, ensuring consistent high standards of cleanliness is a challenge but we are determined to achieve the standards required of us.
"EEAS is committed to providing the highest standards of patient care and will work with the Care Quality Commission to ensure that all necessary requirements are met."Reuse content