"Tobacco smoke at Wishaw"

About: Wishaw General Hospital

(as a friend),

I have had the misfortune of visiting an elderly friend in Wishaw General Hospital several times over the last couple of weeks, each time I visit I have to walk through the main entrance where the smokers congregate. I am then stinking of tobacco smoke, the entrance hall stinks of tobacco smoke all the way to the seating area beside the shop.

On the way out of the hospital, I again have to walk through the smelly entrance hall and the tobacco smoke outside the main entrance. When I get in my car, I can not only smell but taste the tobacco smoke. When I arrive home 20 minutes later I have to change before I cuddle my children as they can smell the smoke from me and wonder where I have been.

You can imagine how confused they are when I tell them the hospital?

If I went to a bar, restaurant, nightclub, shop, my place of work smokers are and would not be allowed to smoke in the entrance. When I visit other hospitals in Lanarkshire and Glasgow, smokers are not allowed and do not smoke at the hospital entrance.

Therefore please can you outline what Wishaw General Hospital are doing to ensure that I, my children and the patients being affected by this second hand smoke are being protected in the future?

Many Thanks.

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Response from Lynne O'Hare, Health Improvement Senior, Tobacco, NHS Lanarkshire

picture of Lynne O'Hare

Dear outraged again,

Firstly, can I say how disappointed I am to hear of your experience whilst visiting Wishaw General. We have been and continue to work hard to inform staff, patients, visitors and the general public about our No Smoking policy to help improve compliance with it. We introduced a policy which banned smoking on all our grounds and vehicles in 2008 and it was updated in 2014 to include e-cigarettes.

The policy aims to build on the good work of the national smoking ban in public places in 2006, protect people from second hand smoke, prevent young people from starting to smoke and offer specialist support for those who want to quit. However, it is difficult to fully enforce it, as unlike the 2006 smoking ban in public places, it is not a statutory requirement by law. However, the Scottish Government has recently confirmed that it is to bring in legislation and this will help support health boards to enforce their no smoking policies.

Some of the steps we have taken to address the matter of smoking on hospital grounds include:
• Installing updated no smoking signs on all NHS Lanarkshire sites.
• Rolling out a system which ensures that all patients who smoke have their smoking status assessed when they are admitted to hospital to allow these patients to be managed appropriately either for temporary abstinence or total cessation.
• Offering stop smoking support at each of our three acute sites through the NHS Lanarkshire Stop Smoking Service, which offers advice and support in conjunction with free nicotine replacement therapy and Varenicline from trained nurse advisors.
• Brief intervention training for our staff, providing them with the basic knowledge and skills necessary to deliver brief opportunistic advice to smokers and how to refer smokers to stop smoking support services.
• Employing a dedicated stop smoking mental health nurse specialist to provide support to mental health facilities staff and patients by offering support, advice and guidance around stopping smoking.
• Discussions with our local authority partners to identify any additional enforcement activity that can be taken forward by our environmental control staff.
• A public information campaign to make smokers aware of our policy and encourage them to smoke off our grounds.

While these steps have encouraged many smokers to respect the policy, to our frustration others don’t and persist in smoking on grounds, particularly outside hospital entrances, despite the inconvenience this causes the majority of others.

As you correctly highlighted, second hand smoke is both unpleasant and presents a health danger. To address this we also have a range of initiatives to promote the dangers and impact of second hand smoke. These include:
• Jenny & The Bear, a primary one based campaign that highlights the risks associated with children’s exposure to second hand smoke.
• Our successful tobacco prevention education pack Smoke in your Eyes which has key messages about tobacco aimed at young people.
• The ‘Big Tiny’ campaign which targets workplaces to promote the impact of second hand smoke.
• Support for the national ‘Take it Right Outside’ campaign aimed at reducing second hand smoke in the home and car.
• NHS Lanarkshire is also involved in a unique study with the University of Aberdeen and the University of Edinburgh looking into the effects of second hand smoke on children in the home and in cars.

I hope this information helps to reassure you that NHS Lanarkshire is taking the matter of second hand smoke and enforcing our smoking policy very seriously. While we are well aware that some smokers persist in smoking on our grounds despite our policy, we are confident that the steps we are taking as well as the future legislative change will help us to reduce this over time.

Take Care

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