An ambulance service has been issued with a warning after the Care Quality Commission found it was failing to protect its patients from infections.

Inspectors from the CQC said they found “dirty” vehicles and that staff for the East of England Ambulance Service were “unsure” about preventing infection.

The region’s ambulance service said it had launched an “urgent and comprehensive review of its ambulance cleaning programme” after the watchdog ordered it to improve measures to prevent infections.

The CQC report said: “On inspection, we found evidence that the trust has breached the regulation to protect patients, workers and others from the risks of acquiring a healthcare associated infection.”

During an unannounced inspection of seven of the trust’s 100 ambulance stations and an ambulance depot, inspectors found that the patient-carrying vehicles were “dirty” and seats were “grimy”.

“During our visit, staff were unsure of basic measures for infection prevention and control such as uniform washing, decontamination of equipment, waste and linen management, and the guidance on dress code.

“The trust’s board is not receiving information to provide assurance of effective infection prevention and control practices,” the report said.

The service, which covers Essex, Suffolk, Norfolk, Cambridgeshire, Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire, said it was taking the report “extremely seriously” and plans to make immediate improvements.

“EEAS is committed to providing the highest standards of patient care and will work with the Care Quality Commission to ensure that all necessary requirements are met,” said Dr Scott Turner, one of the service’s joint medical directors.