SECURITY is being tightened at a medical centre after a confused elderly patient was apparently able to take a seat in the waiting room – after turning up at 3am while it was still closed.
It’s understood the patient managed to push her way through an unlocked door at Stockbridge Health Centre in the dead of night and was only discovered in the waiting room by shocked staff the following morning.
The centre has admitted the door “did not lock as it should have done” when staff left the India Place practice the previous evening.
An urgent security review was ordered following the incident by red-faced health bosses, who have come under extreme criticism over the blunder – especially given it could have been burglars looking for drugs, said Dr Jean Turner of the Scotland Patients Association.
The spokeswoman for the body which campaigns for patients’ rights said: “Somebody has not been doing their job – I think heads should roll.”
It is understood the woman, who had an appointment at the centre for 3pm but mistakenly made her way there 12 hours earlier, managed to get in to the centre through a double door at the front entrance which had not been bolted shut.
A source told the Evening News that the woman gained entry and took a seat, oblivious to a burglar alarm she triggered and the fact there was no-one else around.
The source said: “The first anyone knew about it was when staff turned up at about 7.30am. They got a real fright when they saw the lady sitting there.
“The lights in the health centre are motion activated, so when she started walking they would have automatically switched on.
“When she got in the alarm started going off.”
The source claimed the alarm went off “continually” for four-and-a-half hours, but NHS Lothian could only confirm that it had sounded but not for how long.
The source added: “Apparently staff saw the woman coming in to the surgery on CCTV the next day. This incident could have been so much more serious if kids had broken in or people looking for drugs.
“I don’t understand why nobody turned up when the alarm went off.”
NHS Lothian chiefs today admitted they are to install automatic doors at the health centre.
Inverleith councillor Lesley Hinds expressed shock at the incident.
She said: “It’s surprising that someone has managed to get in to the centre so easily – you would have thought that the health centre would have been more secure.
Dr Turner said she was worried that the centre was left wide open.
She said: “I’m utterly appalled by this and I hope there will be an inquiry as to why the premises were not locked up.
“The health centre would have had needles, syringes and drugs inside – anybody could have walked in.
“When I worked at a premises in the inner-city I had to attend the premises when there were break-ins.
“If the alarm was going off, why did nobody call the police?”
George Curley, director of facilities at NHS Lothian, said lessons have been learned from the incident.
He said: “We can confirm that an incident took place which allowed a patient to gain access to Stockbridge Health Centre before the surgery opened.
“We take matters of security extremely seriously and our investigations in conjunction with staff at the health centre indicate that when the last member of staff left the building the previous evening, the door did not lock as it should have done.”
He said the “unfortunate, one-off matter”, which took place in December, will see “fully automated doors installed shortly”.