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Ambulance changes needed over infections

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The Scottish Ambulance Service must make a raft of changes “as a matter of priority” to help reduce the risk of hospital-acquired infections, inspectors have said.

The Healthcare Environment Inspectorate (HEI) found the standards of ambulance cleanliness were good but said changes were needed to ensure infection control is “fully embedded” in the service.

HEI inspected ambulance stations and vehicles across Scotland between 6 and 9 June.

Chief inspector Susan Brimelow said: “Our inspection team found that the overall standard of cleanliness of the ambulance vehicles was good but we were not assured that infection control services are fully embedded into all aspects of the Scottish Ambulance Service.

“In particular we found poor communication between the infection control team and operational staff, and that the role of the infection control manager does not comply with national guidance.

“We expect the Scottish Ambulance Service to address these requirements as a matter of priority.”

The service was told it now has 15 requirements to meet, such as regularly testing washing machines used for decontaminating uniforms and mop heads, and reviewing its policy on staff wearing wristwatches.

HEI also said there was a need to “ensure” that all staff are provided with hand hygiene education and training.

The inspectorate carries out at least one announced and one unannounced inspection to every acute hospital every three years. The Scottish Ambulance Service and the State Hospitals Board for Scotland have been included in this inspection programme since October 2010.

HEI aims to reduce healthcare-associated infection risks to patients through rigorous inspections.

A spokesman for the Scottish Ambulance Service said: “We are pleased that the report recognises that the overall standard of cleanliness of ambulances is good and that operational staff are well aware of their responsibilities in relation to infection control.

“With around 900 ambulances operating from over 150 stations across Scotland, control of infection is of the highest priority across all of our operations.

“The recommendations and requirements of the report are currently being implemented and we are determined to continue to develop our practices to build on the improvements that have been achieved so far.”

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