"Smoking by patients and staff at the entrance to hospital, "

About: Monklands District General Hospital

(as a relative),

My husband has recently been diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukaemia. Despite the very obvious signs at the entrance to Monklands Hospital he (and I) have to walk the gauntlet of people smoking, and on occasion blocking the entrance. It is not helpful that there are two strategically placed bins at the entrance.

I have been told that it is an Estates matter, which is hard to police. Why then put signs up which are not enforced? Why not remove the bins? Why are people who are capable of leaving the safety of the ward and who are fit enough to make their way to the entrance to smoke allowed to remain as inpatients?

It appears that there is no appetite to take any lasting action. I would appreciate a response in terms of patient / relatives rights in relation to others who are overtly flaunting policy and procedure.

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Response from Shona Welton, Head of Patient Affairs, NHS Lanarkshire

I am sorry that you and your husband had such an unpleasant experience at the entrance to Monklands Hospital. I can assure you that we share your concerns and are actively reviewing what we can do to strengthen compliance with our No Smoking Policy.

Unfortunately if members of the public insist on smoking in the grounds we cannot legally stop them. Nicotine is an addictive substance and we appreciate that people find it difficult to stop. We do, however, have a policy in place to deter staff from smoking in the hospital grounds, which results in disciplinary action.

Recently, as part of the Tobacco Control Strategy for Scotland, NHS Boards have been asked to become completely smoke free on hospital grounds by March 2015. We have also consulted with our staff, patients, visitors and the general public and know there is overwhelming support for smoke free hospital grounds.

We are further reviewing our No Smoking Policy to take account of the additional actions and support we can put in place for those attending the hospital either as a patient, visitor or member of staff. This includes:

• Rolling out of a system to ensure that all patients who smoke have their smoking status assessed on admission and are managed appropriately, either for temporary abstinence or total cessation.

• Offering smoking cessation support through the NHS Lanarkshire Stop Smoking Service which offers advice and support in conjunction with free nicotine replacement therapy from trained nurse advisors.

• Brief intervention training for staff, providing them with the basic knowledge and skills necessary to deliver brief opportunistic advice to smokers and how to refer smokers to the smoking cessation support services.

• Discussing the situation with our Local Authority partners to identify any additional enforcement activity that can be taken forward by Environmental Control.

• Reviewing what other NHS Boards are doing and, if their actions are effective, considering them for implementation in Lanarkshire. The cost and sustainability of these initiatives will need to be considered in terms of future funding.

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