AN increase in anti-social behaviour has led to a health centre closing its doors in the afternoons.

Youths have been gathering outside a row of nearby shops when it turns dark, say health workers.

This has resulted in the staff at the Ladybridge Surgery in Broadgate feeling unsafe, NHS chiefs have been told.

Bosses decided to close the centre from 2pm each day to ensure the safety of staff and patients.

Police have also since increased patrols to help tackle crime in the area.

The Bolton News:

Cllr Andy Morgan, Heaton and Lostock ward councillor, said: “No-one should feel intimidated in their workplace.

“Staff should be able to feel safe at work without being targeted. It shouldn’t be their job to have to deal with these incidents.

“We are doing what we can to support staff by making external areas less of a target for these attacks, so that staff feel safe during winter.”

It follows on from a meeting which was held with local partners, to agree on the actions needed, such as security improvements externally and internally.

Both the council and NHS Property Services representatives were in attendance at the meeting.

It was then agreed that work would be required, which would be supported by Cllr Morgan and Bolton Council.

The surgery has experienced a long history of anti-social behaviour in and around the external areas of the site.

Timescales for improvements to be made are currently in progress, with funding being provided for additional lighting to be installed at the front and rear of the surgery entrance.

But while initiatives have been suggested to improve the issue, the practice has requested to close the surgery from 2pm during the winter months, and until improvement works have been completed.

This is also to help set up afternoon surgeries from Waters Meeting Health Centre.

Bolton Clinical Commissioning Group has agreed that the practice can close at any time they feel a situation escalating which presents a risk to staff and patients.

The committee discussed the incidents and issues presented, and discussed the plans in place to improve security around the practice, noting the urgent actions that can be taken by the practice.

Clinical commissioners believe any permanent changes to the opening hours should be a last resort and say if the practice wishes to submit an application for this long-term, it would be reviewed further.

It has also been agreed to undertake a consultation with the practice’s patients on the proposal to close the practice on an afternoon on a regular basis during the winter months, as well as relocating surgeries to the Waters Meeting Health Centre.

Su Long, chief officer of Bolton CCG, has also been requested to contact the divisional police chief superintendent on the matter.