Nurse has car window smashed whilst working a 12-hour shift at Royal Preston Hospital
A nurse at Royal Preston Hospital says more should be done to protect NHS workers' cars after a spate of theft and vandalism at the site in recent weeks.
Claire Hawkins, 32, is the latest hospital worker to find her car damaged after finishing a gruelling 12-hour shift on the Children's Ward.
The paediatric nurse and mum-of-two, from Leyland, said she was left shaken at the sight of her smashed passenger window in the hospital car park at around 8.30pm on Wednesday (July 22).
"I couldn't believe it. It's not what you need after finishing a busy 12-hour shift at work, looking after poorly children," said Claire.
"I have no idea who is doing this, but a few cars are being done on staff car parks which is really scary and worrying for staff.
"When I returned to my car after finishing work on the paediatric assessment unit and found my car in that state, I just felt sick.
"It’s happening in broad daylight as well, and on a busy staff car park, so whoever is doing this is taking huge risks. But so far they seem to be getting away with it.
"What really upset me is that my car is child friendly and you can clearly see our two car seats in the back and toys everywhere.
"But even knowing I had children didn't deter these people. So it makes me worry that if someone came back to their car and caught them, what would happen?
"We just don't know what these people are capable of, or what's going through their minds to make them do this. What if next time a member of staff is hurt?
"More needs to be done before something truly tragic happens to one of our NHS workers."
Claire had arrived at the hospital at 7.30am and said her window must have been smashed sometime between then and 8.30pm.
She said she was shocked that her car had been targeted in a busy car park in broad daylight and that the hospital's security team had not been aware of the break-in.
Fortunately, nothing of value was taken, but Claire has been left anxious and afraid of parking at the hospital in future.
"It’s a worry because now I’m wondering where to park tonight," she added.
"I don't want to park there again, but what else can I do? Do I risk parking on the street and put myself in danger walking from the hospital to my car at night, with these same people about?
"It makes me feel uneasy, and also angry that I should have to feel this way about leaving my car to go to work."
Claire said she wants the hospital to take more responsibility in safeguarding the car park, following a spate of break-ins and vandalism at the site in recent months.
Last month, nurse Nazia Hussain returned from a shift to find her BMW had been trashed by vandals. She said the damage was so extensive that the car had nearly been written-off.
And in April, four hospital workers finished their shifts to find their car windows had been smashed in the same car park.
Karen Partington, chief executive at Lancashire Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, said: "We do everything we can to make our car parks as safe and secure as possible and have been awarded the ‘park mark’ safer parking award for more than ten years.
"We have introduced extra patrols across the sites and we will continue to work hard to ensure that incidents of vandalism are kept to a minimum on our car parks.
"Most people who use our car parks do so responsibly so we are extremely disappointed to hear when incidents like this happen to our staff who come to work to care for our patients only to find their vehicles damaged.
"We work with our colleagues to offer support and to try to ascertain what happened. We encourage individuals to report any incidents to the police or our security team will contact police on an individual’s behalf."
But Claire is not convinced that enough is being done to keep the car park safe from vandals and thieves.
She said: "I don’t believe security regularly patrol the car park because I went straight to the security office afterwards and they knew nothing about it.
"They obviously hadn't patrolled it well enough on Wednesday. If there were extra patrols then surely they would have seen a smashed window?"