Fury at NHS hospital’s sign banning samosas in library

Fury at NHS hospital’s sign banning samosas in library

An NHS HR boss has apologised after a printed sign singled out “very smelly” Indian dishes being brought into a library.

The sign was put up next to computers at the York and Scarborough Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust library before it was hastily removed on Friday.

It read: “Please do not bring any food any food into the library space.

“Especially not samosas, pakoras or filled chapatis as they are very smelly.”

Dr Partha Kar, diabetes consultant at Portsmouth hospital, told The Independent that the sign had undone months of work towards equality at the NHS which lists nearly 16 per cent of professionally qualified clinical staff as Asian.

He said: “You can’t control some idiot putting up a sign like that. It’s silly and you gain nothing out of it - all you gain is people’s aggravation.

(Getty Images/iStockphoto (Getty Images/iStockphoto)
(Getty Images/iStockphoto (Getty Images/iStockphoto)

“The trust responded to me saying it’s unacceptable it has been taken down. So I’m presuming that it wasn’t an accident and someone from the trust put that up.

“I think the concept of not bringing food into the library is absolutely bang on the money. But when you start saying not this, or that it becomes a problem.

“Fish and Chips with salt and vinegar doesn’t quite smell like Chanel blue either.

“Just say don’t bring food and drink into the library full stop.”

York and Scarborough Teaching Hospitals NHS (Twitter)
York and Scarborough Teaching Hospitals NHS (Twitter)

Head of HR Polly McMeekin, posted an apology on X claiming the sign had been taken down. She added: “Thanks for flagging. Agree totally unacceptable.

“Thankfully removed yesterday by York and Scarborough Hospitals NHS Library team as soon as they discovered it.

“Really disappointing and not in line with York and Scarborough Teaching Hospitals behaviours at all.”

But Dr Kar added: “It’s just unprofessional on so many levels. If it’s meant as tongue in cheek then it is a really bad joke.

“Is it blatantly racist? Yes it is. But we don’t know if it’s done consciously or if they are trying to make a joke that has fallen completely flat.

“With one sign you undo a good 18 months of work towards equality that I know goes on behind the scenes in the NHS on a difficult, emotive subject.

“It would be good to hear from the trust if they are looking into it. There are lessons to be learned for other trusts as well.

“People online have gone nuts. They want to find out who they are and have them sacked but I think that is a little bit silly too.

“If someone has done it then you need to sit them down with them and have a word and explain this is 2024 not 1947 so can we be aware of the trust’s values?”

“It’s just wrong anyway. According to every single food survey an Indian curry is one of the top things English people eat.”

Many responded to the viral post blasting the need to specifically mention food of Indian origin.

Prof Nitin Shrotri, a consultant urologist and Vice Chair at the Centre for Race Equality in Medicine, wrote on X: “Most people are nice, a few are naughty and very few are really nasty. I hope whoever put this up gets called out. It was totally uncalled for.”

NHS Psychiatrist Raja Ahmed joked: “That’s my retirement plan. To open a Pakora and Samosa stall in front of a big university hospital in the UK.”

An on-call NHS manager, who did not want to be named, said she assumed there would be an investigation into who put up the sign.

She told The Independent: “As soon as we were made aware of the poster it was removed and we apologise for any upset it has caused.”

A spokesperson for York and Scarborough Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust added: “We are truly sorry for any distress or upset that has been caused by the sign that was put up in our library at York Hospital. As soon as we were made aware of it, it was removed. It was absolutely not in line with the values and behaviours of our organisation.

“We are proud to have a diverse workforce and are committed to ensuring the experience of all our staff is positive and inclusive.

“We continue to educate our staff to support them in understanding the implications of actions they may take both positively and negatively.”