Vegan Covid patient says she was treated like a 'second class citizen'

Vegan Covid patient says she was treated like a ‘second class citizen’ when she was left eating GINGER NUT BISCUITS and told to get food from a VENDING MACHINE despite Brighton hospital’s claims it ALWAYS offers a vegan menu

  • Jenny Skelton was admitted to the Royal Sussex County Hospital, in Brighton
  • She claimed there was ‘nothing for vegans’ when patients were offered dinner
  • She said it is ‘unacceptable’ especially as ‘there are so many vegans’ in Brighton
  • The hospital apologised for not supply Jenny with her ‘preferred option’
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    A vegan patient has spoken of her upset after claiming she was left unwell in a Brighton hospital bed with nothing to eat but ginger nut biscuits.

    Jenny Skelton, who was suffering from Covid, said she was left lying in a bed at the Royal Sussex County Hospital, in Brighton, with nothing but a flask of tea she had brought from home while those around her ate their dinners. 

    The mother-of-three, who as a vegan does not consume animal products like meat, fish, dairy or eggs, said her stay made her feel like a ‘second class citizen’, particularly in a city ‘where there are so many vegans’.

    The hospital said it offers vegan options ‘365 days a year’ but apologised ‘if, on this occasion, the patient was unable to receive their preferred option’.

    Jenny was taken to hospital by ambulance on Monday after suffering chest pains due to what she thought was a chest infection, but was actually undiagnosed Covid-19.

    She did not take any food with her as she assumed she would only be there for a few hours to be checked over, but she was instead admitted to the acute admissions unit. 

    Jenny said a nurse came round the ward to take everyone’s food order and claimed there was ‘nothing for vegans’. 

    Jenny, who is from Brighton, said: ‘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?

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

    Jenny Skelton said she was left lying in a bed at the Royal Sussex County Hospital, in Brighton, with nothing but a flask of tea she had brought from home while those around her ate their dinners

    Jenny Skelton said she was left lying in a bed at the Royal Sussex County Hospital, in Brighton, with nothing but a flask of tea she had brought from home while those around her ate their dinners

    Jenny, who has since been discharged from hospital, shared her experience online and vowed to take it up with the hospital

    Jenny, who has since been discharged from hospital, shared her experience online and vowed to take it up with the hospital

    After being told there was no vegan option for dinner, Jenny said a nurse advised her to go to a vending machine where there may be something vegan.

    She said she felt ‘slightly miffed’ about having to pay for her food but was relieved to find a vegan snack in the machine.

    However, she claims the machine took her money three times without giving her the food, leaving her to eat dry crackers.

    ‘I didn’t want to come here at all and I am definitely feeling like a second class citizen’, she said.

    Jenny said a nurse eventually brought her a packet of ginger nut biscuits after telling them they are often ‘accidentally vegan’.  

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

    Jenny said a nurse eventually brought her a packet of ginger nut biscuits after telling them they are often 'accidentally vegan'. But she said that in 2021, the NHS should be able to cater for vegans at all times of day

    Jenny said a nurse eventually brought her a packet of ginger nut biscuits after telling them they are often ‘accidentally vegan’. But she said that in 2021, the NHS should be able to cater for vegans at all times of day

    She added: ‘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.’

    Jenny, who has since been discharged from hospital, shared her experience online and vowed to take it up with the hospital.  

    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 menu’s 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.’ 

    The Royal Sussex County Hospital, in Brighton, said it offers vegan options '365 days a year' but apologised 'if, on this occasion, the patient was unable to receive their preferred option

    The Royal Sussex County Hospital, in Brighton, said it offers vegan options ‘365 days a year’ but apologised ‘if, on this occasion, the patient was unable to receive their preferred option

    A spokeswoman for the Vegan Society described Jenny’s experience as ‘disappointing and disheartening’.

    The group suggested ‘veganising’ items for the non-vegan menu, such as jacket potato with beans or a sandwich with cucumber, tomatoes or avocado.

    The spokesman added: ‘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. 

    ‘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.’ 

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