Staff scared to work at medical centre after vandal attacks
STAFF say they are too scared to work at a medical centre after it came under attack for weeks on end with rocks even being thrown at the building while cleaners were inside.
Doctors at Liberton Medical Centre say patients are being put at risk after the group of teenagers shattered windows, set fire to bins and tore guttering off the roof in a series of overnight attacks.
The youths also kicked down the front doors of the centre, rendering some rooms unusable and leading to staff describing the interior as “looking like a warzone”.
The attacks have left some fearing for the practice’s future after cleaners admitted they were reluctant to be left alone in the building at night following an incident in which a member of staff was prevented from going outside by a gang of teenagers who pelted the centre with rocks.
The crime spree comes after a report in yesterday’s Evening News revealed only 16.3 per cent of vandalism cases were solved by police in Edinburgh over the past year.
Dr Julie Catnach – a partner at the practice – said the youths were preventing the surgery from offering patients the best available care.
A sign outside the practice reveals they have had 31 windows smashed in the past few weeks alone.
She said: “The cleaning staff are here for a few hours after we leave at night and that’s usually when the youths arrive, it’s easy to understand how intimidating it would be. I think once the woman who was in here was terrified because they were throwing stones at the windows, she had to call the company and they told her to leave immediately.
“Obviously that has a knock-on effect, if the cleaners can’t clean the building, then it’s not safe for patients and we can’t open.”
Dr Catnach continued: “I’ve been here since 1991 and I can’t remember any problems that we’ve had during all that time being as bad as this.”
“Patients are just in shock, they can’t believe what has happened when they walk through the door, the place just looks terrible, it’s putting people at risk.
“We try and clean up as much as possible, but every day it seems like there’s another window smashed or we’ve had to board up another part of the building.
“At times there’s glass all over the floor, it’s just not safe.
“I can’t use my room at the moment because the window is completely boarded up and there’s no natural light getting through, which is just horrible and we’re having to ask patients to enter round the back of the surgery because the front doors have been so badly broken.”
Dr Catnach revealed the centre had previous issues with vandalism when work to install an extension on the building in 2014 was interrupted by the theft of building materials.
Secretary Avril Scott said staff were “at their wit’s end” and revealed she fears the practice temporarily closing its doors while issues with the vandals are dealt with.
She said: “For the past three weeks, they’ve shattered windows, smashed up the doors and ripped guttering off the roof.
“Recently, coming into work has felt like you were arriving in a warzone. At times, it’s felt like we’re under siege, every day you come in there’s a new problem and it’s starting to impact on us doing our jobs.
“It’s unsafe for staff and for patients, whoever is doing this seems to have no regard for any of us. They are kids, but they have to realise we are here to help people.
“Their mums, dads, aunts, uncles, even them, are all treated by this centre and they’re putting our ability to do that at risk, it has to stop. The police have been fantastic, but obviously they can’t be here all the time, so we really have to get this sorted once and for all so we can get back to helping the local community.”
The practice has been located in the building in Liberton garden since 2001 and underwent brief renovation during 2014 with the addition of an extension and a number of new rooms.