AN AMBULANCE was used to transport an injured badger to a veterinary practice after NHS staff discovered it lying wounded in the road.
The Banbury Guardian launched an investigation into the incident after receiving an anonymous letter raising concerns.
The author claimed to have seen a Facebook post earlier this month by an emergency care assistant for South Central Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust (SCAS) which stated: “We found an injured badger in the road about 3am on night shift the other night. I rang my vet and we took it down to her in the ambulance. She put it down (it was too far gone for saving). :(”
The letter said: “My concern is that it sounds like a dying wild badger was transported to a vet via an emergency ambulance. This is obviously a risk to patients and to the public (the chance of infection eg badger tuberculosis... the risk of a patient being allergic to badger hair... possible badger bodily fluids etc). Was the ambulance thoroughly cleaned afterwards? Are people happy knowing their tax money was spent on transporting an ill badger?”
SCAS confirmed staff had used an ambulance to transport an injured badger to a veterinary practice in Banbury on October 28, but denied there was any risk to public health.
Communications manager James Keating-Wilkes said the incident had taken place as staff were returning from taking a patient to hospital and, as is standard practice, the vehicle would have been thoroughly cleaned before being used again.
He said: “In the early hours of 28/10/12 an ambulance crew returning from hospital to base encountered what they believed to be a dead badger in the road in Banbury and, believing that this posed a danger to other road users, stopped to move it to the side of the road.
“On approaching the animal the crew noticed that the badger was alive and in considerable distress. They contacted a local vet who asked them to bring the badger in to a veterinary practice approximately half a mile from the scene, which they did.
“South Central Ambulance Service has a compassionate and caring workforce. The crew’s actions will be reviewed. At no point was patient safety compromised.”
It is believed the badger was taken to West Bar Veterinary Surgery in Banbury but when asked about the issue David Shepherd, surgery partner, said: “Due to confidentiality issues we are not able to discuss details of treatments to any animals brought to us without written consent from the client involved.”
The Care Quality Commission said it had not received any complaints regarding the incident.