A London trust has apologised for its 'insensitivity' in serving eviction notices on 55 student nurses.

The move, which would have forced the students to leave their accommodation by 1 April, was to ensure vacant possession by November of property sold off as part of a private finance initiative deal.

Greenwich Healthcare trust said the decision had been taken on legal advice. It has sold off three blocks of accommodation to a consortium of developers working on the new Queen Elizabeth Hospital.

Following a statement from the Department of Health criticising the eviction notices, and a threat of strike action by the students, the trust issued a statement regretting its earlier action.

'Our letter was insensitive and badly phrased, causing avoidable alarm.'

A trust spokesperson said it had 'sympathy' with the students and would be helping Greenwich University to find them somewhere to live. The April deadline has been lifted, but students will still have to leave their accommodation by November.