Stub this hospital smoking ban out

A London NHS trust wants to ban smoking, even outdoors. Those interested in personal freedom should speak out.

Brid Hehir

Topics Politics

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Barts Health NHS Trust public-health department wants to lead by example and has a vision that includes wanting to make a ‘real difference’ to the health of the local population. A ‘vision’ sounds positive and forward thinking. But alas, it’s not. It’s designed to create an antagonistic relationship between clinicians, staff, patients, visitors, volunteers and contractors, between those who toe the line and those don’t want to. It will set these people at each other’s throats, all in the supposed interest of their health – and all couched in very positive language. That’s because Barts Health really cares.

The Trust wants to adopt a zero-tolerance approach to smokers to reduce the ill health and early deaths which result from smoking. So it has developed a smoke-free vision that sets out ambitious plans for creating a smoke-free environment which, the Trust believes, will help to tackle health inequalities in east London. So, the Trust is consulting about how best to deal with patients and staff found smoking on its six sites in the City and east London. Referrals to and support from the stop-smoking service is the inducement for smokers who play ball. But for those who breach the smoke-free policy, drastic and punitive measures could be enforced.

These measures include referring patients to a senior clinician who could consider discharging them if they ignore the stop-smoking warning signs. If a member of staff, volunteer or contractor breaches the new rule, this could be construed as misconduct and lead to disciplinary action. According to the London Evening Standard, security staff could even impose fixed penalties of up to £75 on people who drop fag ends.

Additionally the trust will make the implications of its smoke-free policy explicit to all through staff induction and letters to patients on admission. Staff will also be supported to challenge smokers.

The consultation is open until 9 August and is inviting stakeholders’ views via a survey. I urge you to give yours!

Brid Hehir is a fundraiser and a retired nurse.

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Topics Politics


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