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British Surgeon Suspended Over Soup Row

March 23, 2004

LONDON (AP) _ A British hospital has had to cancel operations after a consultant was suspended in a row over a bowl of canteen soup, officials said Tuesday.

Queen’s Medical Center in Nottingham, central England, said Terence Hope, 57, a leading expert in vascular neurosurgery, was suspended on Wednesday after ``allegations about his personal conduct.″ Surgery on three patients was canceled Monday.

A spokeswoman for the British Medical Association, which is representing Hope, said the dispute ``is about soup and croutons.″

``We would hope that the situation could be resolved quickly and that he could get back to work,″ she added.

The Daily Mail tabloid reported on Monday that Hope had been accused of taking an extra serving of soup in the staff canteen without paying. He reportedly said he had just been getting some extra croutons.

The hospital has refused comment on grounds that disciplinary procedures are confidential.

A spokeswoman said Hope had been due to operate on three patients on Monday, but none of them was urgent and their operations have been postponed. ``We are confident that there will be no detriment to their physical health as a result,″ she said.

The government has refused to intervene in the dispute, saying Hope is employed by the hospital rather than the Department of Health.

``It is their responsibility to deal with this particular issue,″ Health Minister Lord Warner told the House of Lords on Monday.

The Daily Mail reported that Hope, who earns $144,000 a year, had been suspended on full pay.

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