Pigeon poo on equipment and wheelchair cleaning failures found at ‘inadequate’ service


Pigeon faeces on equipment and a lack of a formal cleaning process for wheelchairs have contributed to a scathing report of an ambulance service in the South East.

CQC inspectors raised concerns about dirty equipment and wheelchairs being used by the Thames Ambulance Service following an inspection in October 2018, which rated the service as inadequate overall.

The report noted that there were ‘infection control’ issues, including bird faeces at one site and staff informed inspectors that they had not received infection prevention control or deep clean training.

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Amanda Stanford, deputy chief inspector of hospitals, said that at Thames Ambulance Service’s Spalding location, staff told inspects that they did not have wipe clean cushions for wheelchairs which meant that when a patient soiled themselves they would just have to wipe down the wheelchair and use spray.

She said: “There was no formal method of deep-cleaning wheelchairs or taking them out of service when this happened. Staff told us that they would spray down the wheelchairs, they would be wet as a result and they would still then have to use them for another patient.”

The CQC report judged that the service did not control infection risk well. It said: “Staff did not keep equipment and the premises clean or routinely use control measures to prevent the spread of infection.”

It also noted that ambulance staff told inspectors that they had no access to equipment for transporting children, despite the provider offering this service. Inspectors found “limited equipment” for transporting children during the inspection.

However, the report noted that since the inspection the service has carried out pest control measures.

It added that staff demonstrated “caring attitudes” towards patients and a will to provide them with the right level of care and support. The service was rated ‘good’ on caring.

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Joe Peskett

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