ACTION has been taken following a scandal over dirty ambulances in which health chiefs were criticised.

The North West Ambulance Service (NWAS) trust was issued with a warning notice by the Care Quality Commission (CQC), the independent health and adult social care regulator, in August, after an unannounced inspection the previous month.

It found a number of ambulances were putting patients at risk of infection, including two vehicles in Bolton.

Tim Butcher, associate director of performance improvement with NWAS, told Bolton Council’s health overview and scrutiny committee yesterday that the trust accepted there were issues and had taken action.

He said: “We hold our hands up, there were problems and there were unacceptable levels of cleanliness in some vehicles.

“Maybe we haven’t given this the level of attention we should have but we are in the process of sorting it.

“We are working closely with the CQC to ensure everything is being done to rectify this.”

Inspectors looked at 22 vehicles, finding nine ambulances in a very poor condition, with visible dirt on the floors, walls, surfaces and door frames.

Crews reported that none of them had undergone a deep clean in the last year and they did not have time allocated to clean them properly.

Two of the worst ambulances were found at Bolton North ambulance station in Shoreswood, Sharples, which also had neck braces that were dirty and stained. These items were reused with staff not aware of the policy of only using them once. The trust was given until October 31 to make improvements and Mr Butcher told the committee that the work was under way.

More than £100,000 has been invested in deep cleaning vehicles, with all ambulances getting the treatment by the end of this month. The trust has recruited 92 infection control champions and a specialist paramedic for infection control to monitor the trust’s performance.

There will also be a cleanliness audit of all vehicles, a regular programme of deep cleaning and a review of procedures and training.