Complete smoking ban at Derriford Hospital site within weeks
SMOKING will be completely banned across the Derriford Hospital site within weeks.
The hospital's two remaining smoking shelters will be removed and the total ban enforced from March 14 – national No Smoking Day.
Anyone lighting up in the grounds, including car parks and gardens, will be challenged and asked to leave by security if necessary.
Staff smoking on site or in uniform could face disciplinary action, as the ban will become hospital policy.
The crackdown follows years of smoking gradually being whittled down at the hospital.
Despite a site-wide ban in 2008, the habit has been permitted in shelters outside the entrance and emergency department.
People flouting the rules have remained a problem, with many persistently lighting up particularly outside the main doors.
Derriford bosses said the new rules arise from a renewed national emphasis on making hospital sites smoke free and a desire to promote public health.
Patients and staff will be supported to give up through nicotine replacement therapy.
Derriford is one of the first hospitals in the region to make a total ban policy, although all are set to follow suit.
Helen O'Shea, Plymouth Hospitals NHS Trust interim chief executive, said: "Smoking is a huge issue in public health and, as a public health organisation, we should be taking that very seriously.
"We have been working hard to make our sites as smoke free as possible, particularly trying to move people away from the entrances and encouraging them to use the smoking shelters provided.
"However, particularly at Derriford Hospital, we are finding that people are standing around the entrances and complaints from patients and members of the public about smoking at our sites are increasing.
"Not only is this unfair to those who don't smoke and have no choice but to enter the hospital through this entrance, it is also wholly inappropriate for an organisation offering healthcare."
She said she hopes the ban will help people make long-term lifestyle changes that will improve their health.
Lesley Darke, director of estates, facilities and planning, said new bright pink and green 'smoke free' signs have been funded by Smokefree South West. The ban is also supported by NHS Plymouth's public health team.
She said: "As a trust we haven't spent anything on this thanks to their support.
"What Smokefree South West are looking for is for us to set an example for other organisations in Plymouth."
The hospital site will be patrolled 24 hours a day by 'multi-skilled operatives', including car parking attendants, security guards and site services staff. All will be trained in how to approach smokers and encourage them to stop.
Patrols and security are part of the new Vinci Park contract, which has discouraging smoking as part of its remit. The company has taken over security and parking.
Ms Darke said: "We will have to be very clear with the public that we will not allow smoking on site and, should anyone be verbally abusive, we are allowed to remove them from the site. We don't want to but we have the ability to."
All staff will be encouraged to challenge other employees, staff and patients smoking on site, and will carry cards to give out to people lighting up. These will stress the health benefits of quitting and give information on how to seek advice to give up.
The drive has been championed by medical director Dr Alex Mayor and the Tobacco Control Committee.
Sarah Wyatt, head of health improvement for NHS Plymouth (public health), welcomed the news.
She said: "Tobacco use affects the whole of the city. Smoking kills half of all long-term users. By promoting a smoke-free site Plymouth Hospitals NHS Trust is leading the way in ensuring our children grow up in a community free from the harm that tobacco causes."
Plymouth NHS Stop Smoking Service is available on 01752 314040.
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