Watchdog says Craigavon ambulances and station are ‘below standard’

An ambulance
An ambulance

Ambulances and the Ambulance Station at Craigavon were lacking in basic hygiene, a watchdog has said.

During a spot check last month at the depot at Craigavon Area Hospital, the Regulation and Quality Improvement Authority (RQIA) found that Craigavon Station ‘fell below the required quality standards’.

The watchdog found that basic hygiene, cleaning and planned maintenance of the ambulance stations was ‘sub-optimal’.

And their report added that the provision and cleanliness of hand hygiene facilities within the stations was inadequate.

Also the standard of cleanliness and storage of reusable patient equipment in the station and ambulances was poor.

“Waste was not disposed of correctly, waste bins were dirty and temporary closure mechanisms on sharps boxes were not in place,” the report revealed.

Inspectors said they found little evidence that the NI Ambulance Trust had effectively communicated policies addressing hygiene, cleanliness and infection control to staff.

Craigavon was one of three ambulance stations given a rap on the knuckles by the watchdog, Others included Bangor and Broadway.

As a result of RQIA’s findings and ‘evidence of limited progress to address issues previously identified’ at Bangor, Broadway and Craigavon ambulance stations and vehicles, on 26 February 2018, RQIA recommended that the Department of Health implement a special measure to support NI Ambulance Service.

The watchdog said: “We recommended the secondment into NIAS of a senior practitioner with experience in infection prevention and control, governance and assurance.

“The Department of Health has accepted RQIA’s recommendation, and has advised NIAS to proceed with this special measure.

“This secondment should be for a period of three months in the first instance to support NIAS in its improvement work related to infection prevention and control, hygiene and cleanliness.

“The safety and wellbeing of everyone using ambulance services across Northern Ireland is of paramount importance to RQIA.

“We believe this additional support will assist NIAS to deliver and assure the required improvement to its services.”

In an earlier version the article referred to the Southern Health and Social Care Trust however it does not have responsibility for the NI Ambulance Service which has a separate Trust.