A PRIVATE ambulance service has been ordered to improve after dirty equipment was found in its fleet of vehicles, sparking fears over the spread of infection.

Care Quality Commission inspectors even found blood and other bodily fluids inside urgent care vehicles belonging to the Thames Ambulance Service, based on Charfleets Industrial Estate, on Canvey.

In a report published yesterday, the health watchdog revealed it had inspected five ambulances and found issues with cleanliness, infection control and hygiene.

It reads: “In two of the vehicles the mattresses on the trolley were torn with the foam inside exposed which could present an infection risk. The blood pressure cuff for adults inside one vehicle was visibly dirty.

“On one of the box splints, used for limb fracture immobilisation, the plastic was dirty and broken and another immobiliser in the same vehicle appeared to have bodily fluids on it.”

Concerns were raised with the manager at the time of the inspection. However, during an unannounced follow-up inspection a cervical collar and immobilisation head blocks were found with dried blood on them.

There were also concerns that staff were not aware of potential safeguarding situations or received adequate support to deal with them.

The commission highlighted areas of good practice - praising frontline staff for giving patients privacy and dignity. Feedback from patients about care and treatment was positive.

As a result of the inspections, the service has been told to take action to improve. Urgent care aspects of the service have been temporarily suspended.

A spokesman for the commission said a further inspection will be carried out “in due course.”

The Thames Ambulance Service was contacted for a comment but did not respond before the Echo went to print.