Publish date: 14 November 2023

During the past nine months, a growing number of people have been sleeping rough outside our hospitals.

Over time, the hospital received an increasing number of complaints from patients, staff and members of the public about antisocial behaviour and criminal damage. Reports were also made to the police about other concerns including drug dealing. 

There were 10 tents outside the University College Hospital Grafton Way Building, a specialist centre for cancer patients whose immune systems are compromised, which meant there were health and safety issues we felt we could not ignore, including an unauthorised entry into our hospital wards.

We therefore began conversations with several partners about how best to reach a safe resolution for all.

UCLH worked with the police, Camden Council and their Safe Streets Team, and the charity Routes off the Street over several months. Representatives of all these organisations came on site to assess the situation to help develop a solution.

Early in the week commencing 6 November these agencies spoke to the rough sleepers about the intention to clear the site by the end of the week and offered support. The police obtained a dispersal order on 10 November and gave the rough sleepers time to collect their belongings and leave. All but one of the rough sleepers left, some abandoning their tents. Only tents left behind by their owners were removed by our agency partners.

UCLH is deeply committed to improving the health and wellbeing of homeless people and we provide a number of services for this vulnerable group. We do acknowledge the challenges, however, of balancing the welfare of homeless people around our sites with ensuring the safety of our patients and staff.

The Metropolitan police has also released a statement.