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Hygiene worries raised over paramedics on call

A review of the Northern Ireland Ambulance Service has raised concerns over hygiene levels — highlighting the difficulties faced by paramedics in washing their hands between calls.

An inspection of the service by the health service watchdog — the Regulation and Quality Improvement Authority (RQIA) — revealed crews in rapid response vehicles may attend six consecutive calls without being able to wash their hands with soap and water.

The RQIA team said soap-based wipes are used to remove any soiling and staff can also use sanitising gels, but stressed: “these measures on a continuing basis are not a substitute for washing soiled hands with soap and water”.

The report noted that bosses of the Northern Ireland Ambulance Service Trust are aware of the issue and are taking steps to address it.

The RQIA report, released today, also highlighted other lapses in hygiene including incorrect use of gloves to protect against transmission of disease and infection, dirty and damaged grab bags, and uniforms not being cleaned often enough.

Staff were reminded of good hygiene practices after the review was carried out.

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