A controversial decision to shut down a small sweet shop stall in a Teesside hospital has sparked outrage.
A vintage cart that has been selling traditional sweets to those who use North Tees University Hospital has been ordered to close and its contract will end at the end of this month.
It is understood the sweet stall owner received notice at the end of November that they would no longer be allowed to trade due to a nationwide NHS bid to promote healthy eating.
Despite the small businesses being ordered to stop trading, Costa and other larger shops that also sell sugary drinks and food in the hospital may be allowed to continue to trade.
Deepak Dwarakanath, medical director at North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust, said: “As part of a national campaign to promote healthy eating for NHS staff, visitors and patients, we decided to give notice to the sweets and cakes businesses in our hospital market stall areas.
“All contracts for these businesses will expire by the end of the year. This is part of wider and longer term plans to reduce the sale of sugary drinks and food across our hospital buildings.
“Like NHS trusts across the country, we feel it’s important to send a strong message about the links between sugar and health issues like obesity and diabetes.”
The news caused a backlash on social media with many hitting out at the nationwide campaign.
One woman, who works at the hospital, said: “As a member of staff at North Tees I will miss popping out to the sweet cart for a little treat on my break.
“Surely as adults we can choose for ourselves what we eat. Are Costa going to stop serving muffins and hot chocolate? Will the canteen stop selling chips? Doubt it.
“Such a shame for these businesses too, the sweet stall guy is lovely!”
Another woman said: “I am old enough to decide what I eat. Very sad that a small business can’t not be supported. I hope the staff canteen will also be made to follow the rules.”
One user wrote: “They’re getting rid of the only thing that cheers me up when I have to go to hospital. Maybe they should focus more on the food they feed the patients. Pasties and pies are hardly going to help with their health.”
One woman called the decision to shut the business down “stupid”, she said: “Never heard anything so stupid in all my life! Putting a business out on their ear they ought to be ashamed of themselves!”