updated 3/23/2004 11:25:30 AM ET 2004-03-23T16:25:30

A hospital has had to cancel operations after a surgeon was suspended in a dispute over a bowl of soup in the staff cafeteria, officials said Tuesday.

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Terence Hope, 57, a leading expert in vascular neurosurgery, was suspended March 18 after “allegations about his personal conduct,” according to Queen’s Medical Center in the central England city of Nottingham. Surgery on three patients was canceled Monday.

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

“We would hope that the situation could be resolved quickly and that he could get back to work,” said a spokeswoman for the British Medical Association, which is representing Hope.

The hospital has refused comment, saying disciplinary procedures are confidential.

Canceled operations not urgent
A spokeswoman said Hope had been due to operate Monday on three patients, but none of the cases was urgent and their surgery was 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, saying Hope is employed by the hospital, not 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.

© 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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