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Last Updated: Tuesday, 23 March, 2004, 07:56 GMT
Minister stays out of soup row
Dr Hope
Dr Hope is suspended on full pay
The government will not intervene in the case of a surgeon reportedly suspended in a row about soup.

Junior health minister Lord Warner said it was a matter for the doctor's employer, the health trust, after the issue was raised by Lady Knight.

Terence Hope was sent home from Queen's Medical Centre in Nottingham on full pay last week.

"The employers of this doctor are not the Department of Health and not me," Lord Warner said.

Lady Knight, who has campaigned for speedier and more efficient investigations into doctors who are suspended, complained about the case.

Heaven knows how much suffering this has caused
Lady Knight

"I find this absolutely incredible," she said in her speech on NHS suspensions on Monday.

"He has been sitting at home, fully paid, since last week.

"Heaven knows how much suffering this has caused."

Lady Knight argued health department guidelines, published in December in response to a critical report by the National Audit Office, were meant to prevent such suspensions from occurring.

"If this can happen when the government has produced its new guidelines and the hospital trust has read and absorbed them, then surely the guidelines are useless," she said.

Dr Hope is alleged to have taken an extra helping of soup and croutons and not paid, according to the Daily Mail.

Lord Warner, replying to Lady Knight in the House of Lords, 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 particular issue."

'No detriment to patients'

He told peers 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."

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 issue.

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