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Ambulance

Dirty Ambulances May Spread Superbugs

Friday, May 16, 2008 by: David Gutierrez, staff writer
Tags: ambulance, health news, Natural News


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(NaturalNews) A British health care union has warned that inconsistent ambulance cleaning standards may be leading to the spread of disease in various parts of the United Kingdom.

An investigation by Unison concluded that the lack of mandatory standards, combined with shortages of time and money, have led many ambulance companies to adopt unsanitary ambulance cleaning policies.

"In many trusts, ambulance crews are responsible for cleaning their own vehicles and this is a waste of their time and training," said Unison leader Sam Oestreicher. "They should be out there saving lives, not mopping out the back of a dirty ambulance."

In the worst example, ambulances in the United Kingdom's North West have no dedicated cleaning staff, and the ambulance crew is not allotted any time to clean the vehicles themselves. The only case in which an ambulance will be cleaned is if it has carried a patient who is known to be infected. In these cases, the ambulance is merely mopped out.

The best procedure was that of the London Ambulance Service, which has full-time cleaners who deep clean each ambulance when it is brought in and restocked it with medical supplies.

Health Minister Ben Bradshaw replied to Unison's report by saying that there is no evidence implicating dirty ambulances as a source of infection. "The Ambulance Service Association has issued guidance and we expect trusts to follow this," he said.

But Oestreicher says that the voluntary rules must become mandatory, and that they must be matched by increased funding to enable trusts to carry them out.

While ambulance trusts in Wales and the South West have made plans to adopt systems similar to London's, they have been delayed by funding shortages.

"The government recently announced extra money for deep cleaning hospitals, but ambulances seem to have been forgotten," Oestreicher said. "They are part of the patient care package and no one should have to travel or work in a dirty ambulance."

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