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27
Nov

NHS told to ban smoking in hospital grounds


The NHS has been advised to ban smoking in all hospital grounds in England.


The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) said it wanted to see smoke shelters scrapped so that patients, visitors and staff could not light up within the grounds.

The new guidance claimed that staff should stop helping people out of their beds to go for a smoke and patients who do smoke must be identified and offered help with quitting. Doctors, nurses and other staff should also give these patients advice and then refer them on to NHS stopping smoking services. The guidance, which is voluntary for the NHS to follow, also suggested that staff caught smoking should be disciplined.

One in three mental health patients are smokers, rising to 70% in psychiatric units. This is compared to one in five of the general population.

Although NICE conceded that some parts of the NHS had already adopted these approaches, the idea of the guidance was to make this consistent across the health service in England.

NICE public health director Prof Mike Kelly said: "It has been tolerated by the NHS and it is high time that stopped. NHS hospitals and staff have a duty of care to protect the health of people who use or work in their services.

"We need to end the terrible spectacle of people on drips in hospital gowns smoking outside hospital entrances. This is not about imposing some sort of penal regime in which doctors, nurses, administrators spend all their time trying to enforce a series of rules and regulations."

Stephen Dalton, of the NHS Confederation, which represents NHS trusts, said the guidance was welcome.


"A total ban on smoking complements the duty of care on healthcare staff and the organisation to protect the health of people in their care and promote healthy behaviour."
However, Simon Clark of smokers’ lobby group forest described the ban as ‘heartless’, ‘inhumane’ and ‘impossible to enforce’.


"NHS staff have a duty of care to protect people's health, but that doesn't include the right to nag, cajole or bully smokers to quit. Tobacco is a legal product and a lot of people smoke to relieve stress.”


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