By Elizabeth Mackley, Swindon Advertiser
HEART patient Roger Strange was refused a meal at the Great Western Hospital because he was the wrong “ethnic religion”.
The 65-year-old from Pinehurst, who is being treated on the acute cardiac ward on the first floor of the hospital following a heart attack two weeks ago, was refused a Halal meal on Thursday because he is not Muslim.
This is despite receiving Halal meals on numerous occasions previously from Carillion, which is responsible for catering at the hospital.
He said: “In the first place the food in this hospital is pretty disgusting to be honest. But they have specialist menus including a Halal menu for Muslims and Kosher for Jews.
“In the past I’ve asked if I could have this menu and ordered something from that.
“That food is absolutely superb, it’s delicious. It’s really very good.
“But for some reason this time they wouldn’t let me have it.”
Roger said he was outraged at the discrimination, and he did not understand why it was not a problem on previous occasions but he could not receive the food on others.
He said: “I think it was the catering manager from who came over and said they wouldn’t let me have something from that menu, because they say I’m the wrong religion. “And I just thought, ‘that’s not on’.
“They said I couldn’t have it because I’m not the right ‘ethnic religion’.
“When they asked me what religion I was I told them I wasn’t Muslim.
“I tend to say I’m a Jedi on the census. Then he said I was just being stupid.”
“It’s discrimination surely, to say I can’t have the food because I’m not the right religion.
“And I’m not sure why there is a problem now since I’ve been having it before.”
Meals and refreshments at the hospital are provided by external hospitality agency Carillion, who are contracted to provide catering and cleaning services at the site.
Carillion is not directly employed by the hospital but by the building’s owner, Semperian, under a Private Finance Initiative (PFI) contract.
A Carillion spokesman said: “We apologise to Mr Strange for any offence caused. We are working closely with the Trust to ensure all patients receive their preferred choice of meal.”
Meanwhile the Great Western Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust have said they will be reminding Carillion and medical staff that discrimination is unacceptable.
A spokesman said: “We were extremely disappointed to hear of this incident which appears to be as a result of miscommunication and apologise for any upset caused to Mr Strange.
“We will be reminding nursing staff and Carillion, who provide catering services across the hospital, of the choice of meals available to all patients, to ensure this does not happen again.”