AMBULANCE bosses have been praised for the way they tackle infections – only five months after being told they were failing to meet hygiene targets.

A surprise inspection by a health watchdog has confirmed that Yorkshire Ambulance Service (YAS) has met its deadline to make a string of improvements to ensure it has the necessary safeguards in place to treat patients.

In April, the Care Quality Commission (CQC) – the new “super-regulator” for health and social care – named the organisation among 21 NHS trusts throughout the country which had not met Government targets on hygiene.

That meant the service being made subject to legally-enforceable conditions which it had to swiftly address, with the threat of fines or other sanctions if it failed to comply.

But now a fresh CQC report has judged the trust is taking the necessary measures to prevent healthcare associated infections, saying good practice is being consistently applied to both vehicles and equipment, and has lifted the previous conditions to show it now meets all the requirements.

“We are delighted with the outcome of the inspection and that our registration with the CQC is complete,” said Dr Alison Walker, Yorkshire Ambulance Service’s medical director and lead for infection, prevention and control.

“It really is a reflection of the significant efforts of all our staff over the last year. The safety of our patients is an absolute priority for us and we take infection prevention and control seriously.

“Patients can now have the highest level of confidence in the cleanliness of our ambulances.

“Our fleet of accident and emergency and non-emergency Patient Transport Service ambulances are cleaned to the highest standards across the region – as well as weekly cleans, every vehicle has a 52-point deep clean every 28 days, in line with national recommendations.

“We will continue to make the fight against healthcare associated infections a key priority and we will be making additional investment in our services to see standards raised even higher in the future.”

Among the areas CQC said the ambulance trust had to address in its initial report were setting up a formal system to record findings relating to infection risk to patients, ensuring prevention and control policies were in place, confirming staff were obeying clothing policies and drawing up a policy for cleaning equipment.

Back on track

NORTH Yorkshire’s health managers have revealed they are on track to break even on the financial front this year.

Bosses at the region’s health trust need to find £15.4 million worth of savings by next March if they are to have the cash for extra investment in services.

Almost £10 million of that figure has already been identified by NHS North Yorkshire and York, some of which may focus on the way admissions to casualty departments at hospitals are dealt with.

The news that the organisation is operating on a financial even keel after years of trying to rid itself of a £45 million debt inherited from the region’s former health trusts comes as the Government announced it has rejected plans by management consultants to cut England’s NHS workforce by ten per cent over the next five years to save £20 billion.

“Our current financial reporting shows that we are in a break-even position,” said NHS North Yorkshire and York’s director of finance Nicholas Steele.