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Yorkshire Ambulance Service "must improve".

Yorkshire Ambulance Service has been told by England's chief inspector of hospitals that it must improve some of its services following a Care Quality Commission inspection.

A team of inspectors found that the trust delivered services that were caring, but that it needs to improve safety, effectiveness and responsiveness. Overall Yorkshire Ambulance Service NHS Trust, which provides 24-hour emergency and healthcare services to more than five million people, was rated as Requires Improvement.

During the inspection in January and February, inspectors and specialists studied the trust’s emergency operations centres, the emergency and urgent care service, patient transport services and the resilience service including the hazardous area response team.

They found that infection control practices were not always followed, a large number of ambulances were dirty and procedures for disposal of clinical waste gave cause for concern.

Inspectors were particularly concerned at the lack of checks on equipment by the hazardous area response team (HART). A large amount of lifesaving equipment had passed its expiry date. Inspectors also found out-of-date medical supplies in some ambulances and at ambulance stations.

Patients using the patient transport service told inspectors they had difficulty in getting through to the control centre to book or cancel appointments.

Although patients were treated with compassion, dignity and respect by ambulance staff, the service was not meeting national target emergency response times for life threatening conditions.

During the first two quarters of 2014-2015 the trust had performed worse than the 75% national target rate, with fewer than 71% of calls being responded to within eight minutes. However, the trust performed consistently above the England average for category A calls requiring the arrival of an ambulance within 19 minutes.

Three main areas for improvement were that all ambulances and equipment must be appropriately cleaned and infection control procedures followed; equipment and medical supplies must be checked and fit for use and that all staff must be up to date with mandatory training.

Deputy chief inspector of Hospitals, Ellen Armistead, said: “It is clear that the trust has an ambition to develop a culture of clinical and professional excellence.

“Although inspectors found many examples of good practice, we have also identified areas of concern, including the failure to adopt good hygiene and infection control standards.“