Ambulance trust defends cleaning policy

SUFFOLK paramedic chiefs today defended their crews' cleaning after a union claimed dirty ambulances could be contributing to the spread of bugs like MRSA.

SUFFOLK paramedic chiefs today defended their crews' cleaning after a union claimed dirty ambulances could be contributing to the spread of bugs like MRSA.

Poor cleaning arrangements for vehicles and a lack of resources is adding to the problem of superbugs, a UK-wide survey for Unison found.

The union warned there had been little progress since it raised the issue two years ago and called for “urgent action” to get dirty ambulances off the road.

Today, Matthew Ware from the East of England Ambulance Service said the organisation was rolling out a project to turn stations, including Ipswich, into depots where dedicated cleaners are employed.

He said: “A depot is where we employ dedicated ambulance fleet assistants whose sole responsibility is to ensure that ambulances are cleaned everyday with bug-killing detergent.

“They also ensure the ambulances are deep-cleaned once a month where every tiny crevice is cleaned.

Most Read

“This enables crews to come to work and pick up a clean vehicle ready to go on the road.”

He added that in between jobs if crews go straight from the hospital to another call, the linen is changed and there are also bug-busting wipes available.

The system is similar to that of the London Ambulance Service which Unison said was leading the way - with on-site cleaners routinely cleaning the fleet, working nights and carrying out deep-cleans.

They also re-stock ambulances with fresh kit so crews do not have to spend their time cleaning and re-stocking.

Mr Ware said the Ipswich station was planning a renovation to turn it into a full depot, which would include rebuilding parts of the washing area and creating a stocking area.

He added that infection control was part of all ambulance crews' induction.

Sam Oestreicher, Unison's national officer for ambulance staff, said extra cash and the introduction of mandatory rules are needed.

He said: “The Government recently announced extra money for deep-cleaning hospitals, but ambulances seem to have been forgotten.

“The guidance on ambulance infection control is comprehensive, but in practice the essential resources necessary to keep vehicles clean and infection free are not being provided.”

Ambulance crews across the country told Unison that targets, time and money pressures were the reasons behind differences in cleaning practices across the UK.

n. Are you a paramedic or patient with a view? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN, or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk

Become a Supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Become a Supporter