"Smoking Ban"

About: Hammersmith & Fulham Mental Health Unit

(as the patient),

There are two issues I wanted to raise. Firstly, having been sectioned I could be here for 28 days, which I’m not happy about, I think the current law needs to be revised. Being kept here for 28 days makes me feel as if I’m worse off than a refugee.

Secondly, they have introduced a no smoking policy which amount to a total ban. Patients used to be able to smoke in the areas outside the wards but this facility has been withdrawn. For many people smoking alleviates stress, it is stressful enough being in hospital without being totally banned from smoking. It’s a disgraceful violation of my rights.

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Response from Simba Kaseke, Inpatient Service Manager, West London Mental Health NHS Trust

Dear Isle821,

I totally understand why you are unhappy to be sectioned against your will and you are absolutely correct that the section is for 28 days but this does not necessarily mean that you will stay in hospital for the whole 28 days.

You do have the right to appeal against your section, you need to speak to your primary nurse or the ward manager so that they can assist you to appeal. You can appeal to Mental Health Act Tribunal within the first 14 days of your section. The Tribunal is an independent panel which can decide whether you should be allowed to leave the hospital. It will hold a meeting with you and with staff from the hospital. This meeting is called a "hearing". You can ask someone else to come to the hearing to help, if you want. Before the hearing, members of the Tribunal will read reports from the hospital about you and your care. One of the members of the Tribunal will also come to talk to you.

You can ask a solicitor to write to the Tribunal for you and help you at the hearing. The hospital and the Law Society have a list of solicitors who specialise in this. You will not have to pay for help from a solicitor with this. It is free of charge under the Legal Aid scheme.

You are entitled to help from an independent mental health advocate if you want it. These advocates are independent of people involved in your care. They can help you get information about your care treatment, why you are being kept in hospital, what it means and what your rights are. They can come to see you and help you understand what you are told by people involved in your care and treatment. They can also help you with the Tribunal.

You can also appeal to Hospital Managers to let you leave, you can do this at any time. The Hospital Managers are a special committee of people set up within the hospital to decide whether people should be kept in hospital. They may want to talk to you before deciding whether to let you leave.

Your nearest relative can also write to the Hospital Managers to say that they want you to be allowed to leave hospital. If your nearest relative does this, the Hospital Managers must let you leave within 72 hours unless your responsible clinician tells them you might be a danger to yourself or other people if you are allowed to leave.

As you might be aware West London Mental Health NHS Trust implemented the Smoke Free policy on 11th January 2016 as recommended by National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE, PH48)

On admission all patients are offered very brief advice on smoking cessation and provided nicotine replacement treatment as part of physical healthcare assessment. Patients are supported and offered behavioural intervention to manage their cravings, cutting down to quit or stopping smoking. Psychoeducation lesson will be provided to patients to increase their understanding and awareness regarding their physical health.

A specialist smoking cessation advisor provides smoking cessation intervention to patients ( one day per week) in Hammersmith and Fulham Mental Health Unit. All the staff to receive Level 1 training and at least 3 staff from each have receive Level 2 so that they are able to effectively support patients.

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