About: North Devon District Hospital

Anything else?

On attending the hospital today, as i do regularly due to a medical condition, i was again met by the smokers at the entrance. I cannot understand why they are allowed to gather at the main entrance, next to a sign indicating no smoking. They appear to be in medical need themselves, which i would assume takes priority. Why is there no form of discouragement, and having a seat there is in fact an encouragement.

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Response from Jayne Kruszewski, Customer Relations Manager, Northern Devon Healthcare NHS Trust

Dear Patient

Thank you for taking the time to post your comments on the website, I am sorry that you have encountered smokers at the hospital entrance several times, this is a tricky situation and we do everything we can to discourage patients and the public from smoking on the premises. If I may explain the Trust is currently working with Smokefree Southwest to reduce the amount of smoking by patients, relatives and carers and there are a number of initiatives in place, which I have detailed below:

* Bright signage to identify the Trust’s position and details of how to obtain support, and the ready availability of stop smoking advice on site for both patients (and staff)

*CTV cameras and a tannoy system which challenges patients and persons when they are smoking at the front entrance

* We also have ready access to stop smoking advice and the possibility of using nicotine patches for withdrawal symptoms, if patients do not feel ready to quit (this is being piloted for patients coming for operations in the first instance)

Whilst Trust staff have approached and confronted patients and carers smoking at the front entrance of the hospital, unfortunately this has led to an increase in violence and verbal aggression levelled at staff. The NHS has a zero tolerance policy on violence and aggression, and as a Trust we need to ensure that staff are not exposed to unnecessary risk. There are many instances when relatives and patients are extremely anxious, upset or distressed about conditions they or their loved one has, and we have to be mindful about how we handle this sensitively. As a consequence of this, there would be times when it is wholly inappropriate to challenge the smoker.

I hope you feel reassured that the Trust has a number of interventions in place to deter and reduce smoking, and that we continue to look at ways to reduce it further, and any challenges we make where smokers are asked to refrain from smoking, will be based on whether this puts staff at unnecessary risk, or potentially upsets an already very distressed patient or relative.unfortunately where an addiction is involved, there is no ‘quick fix’ and the Trust will continue its role of education and support to quit.

With regard to your suggestion that take away the bench so that smokers are not encouraged to sit there, I will pass this comment on to the facilities manager for her feedback.

Many thanks


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