Vulnerable people were left “very afraid” after their housing estate’s lifts and intercom failed during the coronavirus pandemic, according to the head of a tenants’ group.

Dr Adrian Chapman, chairman of the tenants’ association at Page High estate, Wood Green, said the lift shutdowns meant people had to use a stairwell where social distancing was “impossible”.

The failure of the intercom at Page High – a 1970s housing estate built above shops and a car park in Lymington Avenue – left some residents fearful they would miss deliveries of food and medication, he added.

A spokesperson for housing association Sanctuary Housing apologised for the problems and said it had “not been straightforward” to send contractors to the building during the pandemic.

Dr Chapman claimed that if it had not been for groups of volunteers helping the vulnerable, people would have been in a “terrible situation”.

He said: “For a week the two lifts were not working, and over 200 people living at Page High were forced to use one set of about 100 steps – not allowing for the possibility of social distancing.

“It was not just an inconvenience – it was also a significant public health issue.

“The tenants’ association tried to maintain a dialogue with Sanctuary throughout the crisis but were not able to have meaningful discussions while the lifts were out of action.”

Dr Chapman said Sanctuary had sent a WhatsApp message to tenants stating it was “currently in the process of getting the Loler certificate completed” to resolve the lifts issue.

By law, Loler (Lifting Operations and Lifting Equipment Regulations) inspections must be carried out regularly to ensure lifts are safe to use.

Dr Chapman claimed it had been difficult to talk to his usual contacts at Sanctuary, and he could only get through to a call centre in Hull – where staff had limited knowledge of Page High.

It was only after the intervention of MP for Hornsey and Wood Green Catherine West that things started to improve, he added.

“Deliveries have been very difficult because for several weeks we have had no intercom,” Dr Chapman said. “At a time when people need shopping and medication, they are in a very difficult situation.

“One elderly neighbour requested medication but it could not be delivered, and it was left downstairs with market traders.

“We have quite a lot of elderly and vulnerable people. They have been struggling, housebound, extremely anxious and very afraid.

“If not for the tenants’ group and volunteers looking after people and doing their shopping, people would be in a terrible situation.”

A spokesperson for Sanctuary Housing said: “We are very sorry for the inconvenience the issue with the lifts has caused and understand the residents’ frustrations. We also apologise to Dr Chapman for the difficulties he encountered contacting local staff while they are working remotely.

“During these unusual times it has not been straightforward to arrange for specialist lift contractors to visit the site and therefore, for safety reasons, we took the difficult decision to temporarily take the lifts out of action until the Loler inspections could be carried out.

“We can confirm the first lift was inspected and restored last week, while the second lift was inspected on Tuesday, June 2 after repairs were carried out and is now back in use. We can also offer reassurance that we are committed to repairing the intercom as soon as the required parts are available.”