Watch: Anti-abortion group confronted over ‘vigil’ outside Queen’s Medical Centre

Video: A counter-protester confronted the group and Notts TV on Wednesday.

An anti-abortion group holding an annual 40-day ‘vigil’ outside a Nottingham hospital has faced criticism and confrontation for the third year in a row.

The group 40 Days for Life says its presence outside the Queen’s Medical Centre is peaceful and not designed to be intimidating or cause distress.

But managers at the hospital have made it clear the event is not welcome because they believe it has caused “very considerable distress to patients, visitors and staff” in previous years.

The activists have held the 40-day vigil for three years in a row and appeared outside the hospital on Tuesday (February 14) on Leen Gate, close to the NHS Treatment Centre building. They are holding the action from 6am to 6pm each day.

The Christian group has previously faced counter-protests and on Wednesday (February 14) was confronted by a man covering his face, who also attempted to prevent Notts TV from interviewing the group.

Previous vigils have been held closer to hospital premises and this year Nottingham University Hospitals Trust made it clear the group is banned from its land.

The ‘vigil’ is being held on Leengate outside the hospital.

Tracy Taylor, chief executive of the trust, said before the vigil started: “Previous protests by this group have caused very considerable distress to patients, visitors and staff; which we are not prepared to allow to happen again.  As such, we do not give permission for any such protest to take place on our site.

“NUH would take the same approach in respect of any protest having a negative impact on our patients or staff, regardless of the particular viewpoint of the protesters, and these comments are therefore made without prejudice.”

John Edwards, of Nottingham 40 Days for Life, said: “The Queen’s Medical Centre is where the majority of abortions are carried out in Nottingham. We at 40 Days for Life have been criticised for being present there, standing as we do at Leengate.

“But let us be very clear – we are staging a vigil of prayer, not a protest. We pray – for the unborn, and for their mothers, who are also harmed by abortion.

“We are always peaceful.”

The action is lawful while off hospital land, but Nottingham City Council has spoken out in support of the hospital’s stance and said the vigil should be prevented.

The authority’s Portfolio Holder for Adults and Health, Councillor Nick McDonald, said:”We fully support Nottingham University Hospital Trust’s stance on this protest, given the clear potential for the distress it is likely to cause to patients, visitors and staff.

“Of course people have every right to their own views on these sorts of issues, but in my view no one has the right to intimidate or cause distress to others in the manner we have seen in previous years from this protest.

“We are therefore fully behind any moves by the Trust to prevent or contain the protest, in the interests of people visiting or working at the hospital.”