Health inspectors have raised concerns over the spread of infection and cleanliness at a patient transport service in Lincolnshire and Grimsby after it was rated “inadequate”.
The Care Quality Commission raised the issues in a report on Thames Ambulance Service following an inspection in October 2018.
Inspectors visited the service’s bases in Lincoln, as well as Grimsby and Spalding.
The report rated the service overall “inadequate” in four areas, but “good” for caring.
Thames currently faces losing its contract in Lincolnshire after a “no confidence” vote from councillors.
Officials raised concern that Thames had “infection control” issues, including “bird faeces” at one site.
In one case, inspectors found that there was no running water at the Spalding base for staff to be able to clean vehicles.
Staff were also unable to give inspectors records of deep cleaning for the vehicles.
Amanda Stanford, deputy chief inspector of hospitals, said in the report that staff told inspectors that there was no formal method of deep cleaning wheelchairs.
“At the Spalding location staff told us that they did not have wipe clean cushions for wheelchairs which meant that when a patient soiled themselves, which happened occasionally, they would just have to wipe down the wheelchair and use spray,” she said.
“Staff told us that they would spray down the wheelchairs, they would be wet as a result and they would still then have to use them for another patient.”
Inspectors found “visibly unclean” vehicles in both Lincoln and Spalding.
Meanwhile, the Grimsby base had “ongoing issues with cleanliness and bird control” which had not been addressed since the last inspection.
“The garage floor at the Grimsby location, vehicles and equipment were contaminated with bird faeces due to pigeon ingress whenever the garage door was opened,” the report said.
“This had been highlighted at previous inspections but not improved and represented an infection risk.
“There were also many desk equipment items stored in the garage including fabric chairs which were all contaminated with bird faeces.”
Inspectors also found concerns with staff training, no access for transporting children, leadership and staff morale.
Officials did find however that staff showed “caring attitudes” towards patients and wanted to provide the right level of care.
Thames have come under fire recently for their contract performance in Lincolnshire.
The health scrutiny panel for Lincolnshire passed a vote of “no confidence” in the service, but commissioners said it was not the “right time” to terminate the contract.
Thames Ambulance Service has been approached for comment.
SUBSCRIBE TO LOCAL DEMOCRACY WEEKLY, our exclusive email newsletter with highlights from our coverage every week and insights and analysis from our local democracy reporters.