The local NHS trust has assured furious campaigners that it does not plan to kill a locally famous fox, but does intent to humanely deter it from a "busy hospital site."

The fox is well-known to visitors of Queen Elizabeth Hospital and is regularly seen on the grounds of the SE18 hospital.

But a group of campaigners had been sharing posts referencing alleged plans by Lewisham and Greenwich NHS Trust to employ pest controllers to kill the fox, causing alarm.

The group, who reacted strongly to the news, said the plan was cruel, especially during the fox's breeding season, which may also mean condemning cubs too.

The Greenwich Wildlife Network said they implored the trust to explore non-lethal, humane forms of fox deterrence, calling the alternative "inhumane and unnecessary."

In a statement, the south east London trust said strongly asserted that no one was being employed to kill any foxes or other local wildlife, but that there was a need to deter them from the site.

Queen Elizabeth Hospital

Queen Elizabeth Hospital

Some protestors had argued that the fox, regularly seen on the hospital's grounds, had a right to be there.

But the trust's spokespersons said that "while many of our colleagues and visitors are animal lovers, as a busy NHS hospital we do need to to take steps to deter the fox from the site."

"However, please be assured that we are doing this in a humane way and would urge visitors not to feed the fox. We would be grateful if you could share this message.

"We'd like to thank everyone for contacting us on this issue."

The wildlife group had encouraged people to get in touch with the trust to make their opinions heard.

"If you would rather your taxes were used to explore non-lethal, humane fox deterrence that actually works, please contact the Trust. We do not know which date the killing is set to happen, so time is of the essence.

"We know that the NHS is under a lot of pressure at present, so ask that you try to remain polite and respectful in your correspondence, although we realise it is an upsetting issue."

Wildlife campaigners have run a number of recent campaigns against the alleged culling of foxes locally.

Fox culling has been a major issue in recent weeks in south east London

Fox culling has been a major issue in recent weeks in south east London

Coca Cola European Partners issued an apology in February after plans to control the fox population at its Sidcup factory site emerged.

"We have listened to what people told us – completely understand the concerns they have raised – and are sorry if anyone has been upset by the approach we took to control foxes."