A minister has said the government will not intervene in the case of a brain surgeon reportedly suspended over taking a bowl of soup.
Dr Hope is suspended on full pay
Dr Terence Hope, 57, a consultant at the Queen's Medical Centre in Nottingham, was sent home on full pay last Wednesday.
He is alleged to have taken an extra helping of soup and croutons and not paid, according to the Daily Mail.
Junior health minister Lord Warner said it was a matter for the health trust.
Lord Warner said: "The employers of this doctor are
not the Department of Health and not me.
"They are the local (Nottingham University Hospital) Trust.
"It is their responsibility to deal with this
He told peers that the National Clinical Assessment Authority (NCAA) had offered their help to the trust, but it was for the trust to decide whether to accept that help.
Lord Warner, replying to a debate on the suspension of NHS staff, added: "I am reliably informed that there will be no detriment to patients, because the work that that doctor was due to perform will be covered by his colleagues."
A hospital spokeswoman said three of Dr Hope's operations that were planned for Monday were postponed.
Dr Hope's other work would be covered in an appropriate manner that would routinely apply during staff illness or injury, she said.
Hospital officials have confirmed Dr Hope is being investigated, but would not comment further.
A spokeswoman for the University Hospital NHS Trust said: "A consultant was suspended on Wednesday following an alleged incident at the hospital which did not relate to any patient or another member of staff.
"The matter will now be discussed as soon as possible with the consultant involved. In the meantime the trust is not prepared to talk any further.
She said that it is not yet known when the hospital will meet Mr Hope to discuss the alleged theft.
Mr Hope, who is an expert in vascular neurosurgery and thought to earn around £80,000 a year, was appointed a consultant neurosurgeon in Aberdeen in 1981.
He moved to Nottingham in 1986.
Mr Hope was born in Newcastle upon Tyne and trained at Liverpool University, before working in Bristol and in Memphis, Tennessee.
The father of three, from Hemington, Leicestershire, is a senior examiner for the Royal College of Surgeons and secretary of the Intercollegiate Board in Neurosurgery.
Linda Towle, a former patient of Mr Hope, felt it was a ridiculous situation.
She said: "Croutons are only slices of bread chopped up.
"I know bread costs money but it seems there is something wrong here."