Peterborough GP surgery to shut after ‘drug addicts make it unsafe for staff to come to work’
A Peterborough GP surgery is set to close because drug addicts are making it ‘unsafe’ for staff to go to work.
Dr Shabina Qayyum, a GP and Clinical Lead Doctor who works at the Burghley Road surgery near Peterborough City Centre, told top police chiefs the surgery would shut on January 25 as a result of the behaviour of drug users in and around the surgery - leaving 1800 patients without a surgery.
Peterborough and Cambridge Police and Crime Commissioner, Jason Ablewhite, Peterborough Chief Constable Nick Dean, Chief Inspector Nick Church and
Superintendent Andy Gipp were told of the safety fears at a police meeting at Peterborough Town Hall last night (Monday).
Dr Qayyum said nurses were refusing to go to work because of the problems.
She said: “I work as a GP at both Dogsthorpe Medical Centre and the Burghley Road Surgery, as I’m sure you will know is a very old and established medical centre for the past thirty years and also something of a hot spot when it comes to crime.
“Unfortunately following a meeting with the NHS Clinical Commissioning Group that I have just come from today, we are going to have to close Burghley Road Surgery on January 25 simply because it’s now not safe enough for professionals like myself to work there anymore.
“We have had numerous incidents that have taken place, I’m sure a lot of which will have been reported to yourselves. We have reported crime as a matter of information to the police, trying to be helpful – but because of an increase in these occurrences it’s just not safe for us to work there anymore.”
Ms Qayyum added: “We’ve just had to tell 1800 patients that we will no longer be operating an NHS surgery at Burghley Road, and for somebody like me that’s quite heart-breaking, especially for the elderly and vulnerable who really can’t travel to an alternative surgery.
“It will mean a cut in the professional relationships that we have with them, and personally I find that very rather disturbing.
“There are drug addicts shooting up in the telephone booths, and then wanting to use the toilets in the surgery. There are needles littered everywhere outside the surgery. It’s simply not safe for us to be there anymore and so it will close on January 25.”
Mr Ablewhite said: “Clearly there are some hot spots for crime, and then can only be dealt with through the tenacity of policing working in partnership with others in their community such as the NHS.
“We have to deal, as Police Officers, with a lot of mental health issues, just as you do in the NHS, and I go out a lot with my operational officers to get a really strong feeling for what it actually going on in the communities.
“I have seen myself people who have been turned away by the emergency team at hospitals who are then going to do things like stand on a bridge over the river to ensure that the police will come.
“The Police will then take them to A&E and that means that they will be seen by a Doctor such as yourself. But it requires people going into crisis usually because they haven’t taken their medication that we have to deal with on a daily basis.
“If we didn’t have to deal with mental health issues it would free-up an enormous amount of policing time to address some of the issues you have raised.
“But, that said, you have my every assurance as Police and Crime Commissioner – as much as I possibly can – to ensure that we start to get better funding in Cambridgeshire than we currently have.”
Chief Inspector Nick Church said: “In terms of closure of Burghley Road Surgery I’m absolutely gutted to hear that. I know that area is a hot-spot for crime and has been a problem in Peterborough for a significant time. I’m also aware that the practice has been running for many years.
“In 2018, we launched a policing operation in the area where a lot of resources were used to tackle drugs, talking with the sex-workers and trying to increase the safety for everyone who lives and works there. So I must say that I am more than a little shocked to hear about the closure as I hadn’t heard anything prior to this meeting.”
Cambridgeshire and Peterborough CCG have been approached for comment.