Vegan patient left with ‘nothing to eat but ginger nut biscuits’ in hospital

A vegan patient claims she was left in hospital with nothing to eat but ginger nut biscuits.

Jenny Skelton said she was left lying in her hospital bed hungry while those in the ward around her chomped on their dinners.

And she says she only had a cup of tea with soya milk because she had brought it in a flask.

Jenny said she felt like a “second class citizen” during her stay at the Royal Sussex County Hospital in Brighton, East Sussex.

She was sent there by ambulance after suffering chest pains due to what she thought was a chest infection, but was actually undiagnosed Covid-19.

Assuming she would only be there a few hours to be checked over, she didn’t take any food with her, but was instead admitted to a ward.

Jenny Skelton after being admitted to hospital
Triangle News)

And there she claimed getting vegan food was nigh on impossible – even though the hospital claims to have a 24-hour vegan menu.

Jenny from Brighton, said: “I am feeling very cross and sad.

“The ambulance staff who brought me here were lovely and the hospital staff are very pleasant, but a nurse came round to ask for everyone’s food order and there is nothing for vegans.

“All the other people on the ward are now eating their dinner while I am lying here with nothing.
“I do have tea but only because I brought my own flask of tea from home with soya milk.

“In this day and age, particularly in Brighton where there are so many vegans, it is unacceptable. Why can’t they stock a few frozen vegan meals just in case?

“I am not supposed to leave until I have been given fluids intravenously and eaten some food but how am I supposed to eat when there is nothing?”

Jenny Skelton claims was left lying in her hospital bed hungry while others ate their dinners
Triangle News)

“There are thousands of vegans in Brighton and I feel it is discriminatory not to have anything for us at all.”

After she was told there was no vegan option, she says a nurse advised her to go to a vending machine where there may be something vegan.

“I felt slightly miffed that I had to go and pay for my food while everyone else got theirs free, I was happy to see there was a vegan snack in the machine,” Jenny added.

“My joy was short-lived when the machine took my money three times and didn’t give me my food.

“I have only eaten a few dry crackers today, I didn’t want to come here at all and I am definitely feeling like a second class citizen.”

After explaining to the staff that ginger nut biscuits are often ‘accidentally vegan’, on the third time of asking for some, a nurse brought her some vegan ginger nuts.

But she said that in 2021, the NHS should be able to cater for vegans at all times of day.

She went on: “Every vegan seems to have had different experiences at this hospital. Some have been given vegan options but many haven’t.

“My point is though that it would not be difficult to keep a stock of frozen vegan sausage rolls or sandwiches and it isn’t as though non-vegans can’t eat vegan food.

“I don’t want to make this story about the staff because they are clearly extremely busy and stressed. I think it is about the general policy of not having anything there for vegans.

Royal Sussex County Hospital in Brighton
Universal Images Group via Getty Images)

“There are thousands of vegans in Brighton and I feel it is discriminatory not to have anything for us at all.”

A spokeswoman for the Vegan Society said: “It’s disappointing and disheartening to hear that Jenny was left without any suitable plant-based food during her hospital stay.

“If there isn’t a separate vegan menu at the hospital, a very easy and simple fix would be to veganise items from the non-vegan menu, such as jacket potato with beans, salad or a sandwich with cucumber, tomatoes or avocado.

“Fortunately, this doesn’t seem to be a common occurrence across the NHS as education and understanding around veganism grows, however we still have a long way to go.

“It’s quite often the case that the food served in hospitals is outsourced to third party contractors, some of which may not know what food is suitable for vegans while others may not feel like the demand justifies the supply.

“The Vegan Society’s Catering For Everyone Campaign aims to get more and better vegan options in the public sector.

“We want to see every school, hospital, prison and council menu contain good quality, nutritious plant-based options, every day.

“We’re working with our network of local campaigners to encourage local institutions to improve their current plant-based offering.

“While things have improved, we must ensure vegans everywhere, including Jenny, are properly catered for when they go into hospital.

“The majority of hospitals do try and offer either hot and cold vegan dishes or vegan snacks options in the vending machines.

“It has become more common to see plant-based milks and butters in hospitals too.”

Dr. Maggie Davies, chief nurse for University Hospitals Sussex NHS Foundation Trust, said: “University Hospitals Sussex NHS Foundation Trust has a variety of options on our menus across all our hospitals to accommodate a wide range of dietary requirements, including a diverse vegan offer, available 365 days a year.

“Outside of regular meal times there are also vegan snack options available for patients, should they need them. We apologise if, on this occasion, the patient was unable to receive their preferred option.”

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