A family of travellers have been allowed to set up camp outside one of Britain’s busiest hospitals while one of them recovers from heart surgery inside the building.
Meanwhile, members of the public visiting loved ones at Manchester Royal Infirmary have to pay charges of up to £15 a day to use a multi-storey car park – or take a bus or taxi.
It is understood the travellers are not having to pay to keep their four vans in a fenced-off area outside one of the main entrances.
Meanwhile, members of the public visiting loved ones at Manchester Royal Infirmary have to pay charges of up to £15 a day to use a multi-storey car park – or take a bus or taxi
They were previously parked along a pavement between the hospital entrance and the multi-storey car park on adjacent Nelson Street for around three weeks.
It is understood they are being allowed to use facilities within the hospital for personal hygiene.
Central Manchester University Hospitals NHS Trust said the arrangement had been agreed by its security team and police. But relatives of other patients, who did not want to be named, called for the travellers to be moved elsewhere.
Councils have historically been obliged to provide gipsy and traveller camps and Manchester has one less than two miles from the Royal Infirmary, on the north edge of the city centre.
One woman, who was visiting her sick husband at the city centre site, said: ‘Why couldn’t somewhere else be found for them to stay away from the hospital entrance?’
A male family member added: ‘If we were at a hospital abroad, we couldn’t pitch up outside like that. They have bags of rubbish and it’s quite dirty.
‘The area where they are parked used to be disabled parking. They should be elsewhere and pay to use the car park.’
Another man said: ‘It’s not right when you think of how much ordinary families have to pay to use the car park. Nothing against them personally but it’s preferential treatment by the hospital and shouldn’t happen.’
A taxi driver, who also did not wish to be named, said that while the travellers were parked on the pavement on Nelson Street, their vans obstructed people walking between the hospital and the multi-storey car park.
He said: ‘People could only walk along one side of the road and a lot of patients have mobility problems, so it made life difficult for them.’ The female family member declined to discuss arrangements in detail and would not give their names.
But from her van parked next to the hospital entrance, she said: ‘We came over from Ireland for a holiday but my husband became very ill. There are three couples and kids – although the children have since been driven back to Ireland. My husband is in the hospital after having two heart attacks.
‘He has had to have surgery and is in intensive care. The hospital are being very good and we plan to stay as long as we need to because we want to be close to him while he’s sick. We don’t want to cause any trouble.’ Yesterday, three of the vans were parked within the security fencing outside the hospital entrance – all Irish-registered from Dublin, Co Wicklow and Co Louth. The enclosed area is not obstructing the hospital entrance or road.
A fourth van was on Nelson Street, its occupant asleep on a mattress in the back despite the side door being wide open. Last night, a spokesman for Central Manchester University Hospitals NHS Trust said: ‘We are aware of a number of vehicles currently parked at Manchester Royal Infirmary.
‘We are continuing to manage their presence on site and would like to reassure patients that these vehicles are not parked in areas that directly impact on the arrival of ambulances or patient care.
‘We are working closely with Greater Manchester Police to resolve this situation.’
Greater Manchester Police and Manchester City Council are yet to comment on the situation.