"Cigarette ends in hospital grounds"

About: Dumfries & Galloway Royal Infirmary

(as the patient),

On approaching the hospital from the path leading from the Bankend Road to the main reception area today, I come across some metal stands next to the path with literally dozens and dozens of used cigarette butts stashed. The first one to the end of the Alexandra Unit was the worst, and looked more like 100 (I didn't count, but lets just say more then few dozen). This was the very first thing I really took any notice of on my approach, until I seen more of these also filled with cigarette butts towards the front of the hospital...........then I seen all the signs specifically stating that Hospital Grounds are a NO Smoking Zone.

I think the cigarette ends are disgusting and an absolute disgrace. My view is that this portrays a shocking advert for our NHS, especially horrible to see directly outside the Alexandra Unit. I have tried ringing the number reception gave me to make a complaint but no answer on that number so far. I will try again tomorrow, but I think somebody needs to address the issue quickly, as it portrays a shocking visual image and all the wrong signals.

Delighted as I was at the service and treatment I received once inside, I really was truly disgusted before I'd even reached the front door. If the resources are not there to patrol this area, the metal things where the butts are stashed should be cleaned regularly and some measures taken to discourage those doing it. Everything about my hospital visit, was otherwise positive, but either there is an awful lot of smokers disobeying the rules, or the butts haven't been removed for weeks or months. Can someone arrange for it to cleaned asap please.

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Response from Michaela Cannon, Patient Feedback and Complaints Co-ordinator, Patient Services, NHS Dumfries & Galloway

Dear Sturie,

Thank you for bringing your concerns to our attention, I am sorry that found the grounds in such poor condition this morning. We as a Board are equally frustrated, as currently there are no enforcement measures available to us. The By-law route has been explored by a number of Boards but with little success, as this requires local authorities to enforce with limited or no resource. The more promising route is through the Health Bill which is currently making its way through Scottish Parliament. This includes provision for enforceable exclusion zones. During the consultation period, Board’s have suggested that it is the Boards who should designate the exclusion zone rather than a prescriptive 1 or 5 metres from the building, but we will need to wait on the next reading to understand how it is being progressed. I have attached a link to the Parliament website for your interest.’

The Health Board employs someone to litter-pick the hospital grounds on a daily basis. We have asked for this service to be reviewed and we will continue to monitor the situation to ensure that cigarette butts are not being missed and allowed to accumulate.


Kind regards

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Update posted by Sturie (the patient)

Thank you Michaela for your response.

I understand where you are coming from in relation to the enforcement measures, and the frustrations relating to this. Dumfries & Galloway Council have an enforcement team who issue £80 fines for the improper disposal of a 'single' cigarette end. However I realise that you will probably have explored that option, and that their own resources are stretched, as they cover a wide geographical area, also covering other duties in the process.

Perhaps if your litter picker could be delegated to prioritise the area to the immediate front and side of the buildings most used by the public, and remove the cigarettes on a regular basis it would help. Maybe a cctv camera and signs confirming their presence would also help deter those doing it. I had to return to the hospital again this morning, and noted that there are also a large number of them littered across the gravelled area right next to the front door. In my view there is a complete lack of respect from those doing it, particularly at the front entrance of a hospital (and sorry for labouring the point - but right next to the Alexandra Unit), and there must be many people who are doing it.

Just a thought, but from the sheer numbers lying around, at £80 a time there could be an opportunity for the NHS to recoup some losses at least in the short term until folk get the message!

Thanks for the quick response as it is appreciated.