MEASURES put in place to improve the cleanliness of the region’s ambulances after they were labelled dirty by inspectors, are being shared across the country.

The North West Ambulance Service came under fire last summer after a health watchdog issued a warning notice to the trust, following an inspection.

The Care Quality Commission’s (CQC) unannounced visit found a number of ambulances were putting patients at risk of infection because they were dirty.

Nine vehicles out of 22 did not meet standards, with two of the worst examples found at Bolton North ambulance station in Shoreswood, Sharples.

NWAS was given until the end of October 2009 to make improvements and passed a follow up inspection by the watchdog in November.

Now the measures implemented by the trust are being shared nationally as a good example of best practice. They include an audit and deep clean of all vehicles, around a thousand in total; recruitment of two additional paramedics specialising in infection control and extensive training for all staff.

Tim Butcher, associate director of performance improvement with NWAS, told Bolton Council’s health overview and scrutiny committee that lessons had been learned.

He said: “We have held our hands up and accepted there were major shortcomings.

“We were already aware of cleanliness but we’ve not pushed it as hard as we might have done. When the CQC came back they were delighted with our progress and declared us fully compliant.

“They were impressed with the measures we have put in place and it has been adopted as best practice across the country.”

The trust already had 92 staff infection control champions, one specialist paramedic and had started a £100,000 deep clean when the inspection took place.