“We don’t want your second-hand smoke.” That’s the message coming through loud and clear from people visiting NHS Ayrshire & Arran premises and being subjected to clouds of smoke when trying to gain access to buildings.
NHS Ayrshire & Arran is reminding visitors, patients and staff that all hospital grounds are smoke-free following a record number of feedback comments complaining about people smoking at entrances to hospitals.
All hospital grounds went smoke-free on 31 March 2015. Since this time smokers have been asked to respect other people’s right to fresh air by leaving the grounds if they wish to smoke.
Elaine Young, Assistant Director for Public Health, explains: “We are extremely grateful to those people who are adhering to our policy and leaving our grounds when they wish to smoke.
“However, increasing numbers of people are continuing to smoke at the doors of our hospitals and this is causing distress for visitors and patients who are being exposed to second-hand smoke. We would re-iterate again that our buildings and grounds are smoke-free and ask that those who are visiting our hospitals comply with our policy.”
While there was reasonable compliance when the policy was first introduced, feedback and complaints from unhappy staff, visitors and patients have been increasing. Smoking is now one of the most complained about topics received. Littering has also become an issue with people throwing away smoking-related materials.
Elaine added: “We have tried numerous ways of asking people not to smoke on our grounds. I have approached smokers myself and politely asked them to please leave our grounds to finish their cigarette.
“We have clear, large signage on display throughout our hospitals and within the grounds about our policy. We are simply asking smokers to please respect other people’s right not to have to breathe in their smoke.”
Some comments received from members of the public, include:
- “I was very disappointed that I could not find a wheelchair when I needed one. I get very breathless and knew I would need a wheel chair to get from the entrance to the dermatology clinic. My son and I looked for a chair near the entrance where they are kept but could not see any. I then realized all the chairs were being used by patients who had come from different wards in their pyjamas to sit outside and smoke cigarettes. I thought the whole site was supposed to be smoke-free. I also find it difficult to come to terms with the fact that people in need, like myself, cannot use the wheelchairs provided whilst they are being occupied, not used, by patients who should not be smoking on the site.”
- “Disgusted that people continue to smoke near entrances/exits at hospital. Cigarette butts littering ground at doors. Have to hold my breath every time. Yuch! Not very good for health promotion.”
- “I have attended paediatric appointments with my daughter recently at both Crosshouse and Ayr hospital and the amount of people outside the main doors smoking is disgusting! At Ayr there were a line of four elderly people in porters chairs smoking that I had to walk past and at Crosshouse I didn't even bother counting as there were so many congregated right outside the door. I feel really sorry for the staff in the offices which I could see are straight across from this area.”
Elaine continued: “While it is NHS Ayrshire & Arran policy and currently we are unable to legally enforce our policy, legislation is expected in 2018 which will mean there will be a legally enforceable perimeter around hospital buildings. This means that in future, people who smoke within the perimeter of our buildings can and will be fined, similar to smoking in enclosed spaces.
“Until this legislation is available, we will continue to ask people not smoke on our grounds and we would request all smokers to respect this rather than face a fine in the future.”