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Hospital grounds should be smoke free

2nd April 2009

Doctors’ leaders have called for smoking to be banned in the grounds of all hospitals in Wales.

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Some Welsh NHS trusts currently operate a voluntary code to reduce smoking in the vicinity of hospitals.

But on the second anniversary of the ban on smoking in public places in Wales, the British Medical Association wants to see it enforced in hospital grounds.

However the Welsh Assembly says it has no plans to extend smoke-free legislation.

Chair of the BMA's Welsh Council Dr Andrew Dearden said: "The BMA in Wales has campaigned for smoking to be banned on all hospital grounds. In fact, we called on the assembly government to change the law to ensure hospitals were included in the smoking ban legislation."

He said it was absurd that while smoking was outlawed in pubs and restaurants it was still permitted in hospital grounds.

"The very reason people visit hospitals is to increase their chances of getting better, not to potentially have their health threatened, by having to fight their way through clouds of cigarette smoke," he said.

Security guards at North Wales NHS Trust hospitals recently revealed they face abuse when asking smokers to leave the site where smoking is against trust policy but not against the law.

The BMA in Wales said it believed if it was against the law to light up around hospitals, much of this abuse could be stamped out.

The Welsh Assembly Government said hospitals were free to introduce no-smoking policies but it would not introduce new legislation.

 

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Comments

alan frame

Wednesday 8th April 2009 @ 13:56

This is a classic example of policy attempting to overide law. It cannot be enforced under current legislation, except in the case of hospital staff, who may be subject to disciplinary procedures if they flout their employers policy.

So we have an unequal and unfair system in operation, whereby patients and members of the general public can only be requested to desist from smoking on hospital grounds. If they refuse politely, then there is no redress, other than issuing a civil banning order, which is not going to happen!

While I would fully support any measure which would put an end to this situation, I know of hospital authorities where staff are actively encouraged or instructed to challenge smokers in hospital grounds, which in turn only leads to conflict, hostility and even violence against hospital staff. I would submit that employers acting in this manner are in fact breaking health & safety at work law, as this would be classed as a forseeable outcome or risk, from undertaking such action.
Until such times as primary legislation is changed, then we simply have an unworkable and unenforceable policy in place, and an educational approach would probably be as equally effective, or ineffective depending on your point of view.


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