The Southern Health and Social Services Trust has admitted it is struggling to enforce the smoking ban imposed on all its properties six months ago.
In a statement this week, the Trust confirmed, “There is still a minority not adhering to the policy”, with the main hospital at Craigavon a prime example of ignoring the ban.
Patients, visitors and some staff members are still regularly smoking openly in the hospital grounds, most prominently in the bus shelter and in front of the main entrance.
Patients are seen regularly with their intravenous infusion (drip) stands having a smoke, as are visitors waiting for a bus – although most staff go as far as the main Lurgan Road to enjoy a cigarette break.
The Trust has failed to completely eradicate the habit within the hospital grounds, despite additional ‘Smoke Free’ signage, regular reminders of the policy played over the tannoy system, and posts on the Trust’s Facebook pages.
Bins are overflowing after months of abusing the system, and the floor of the bus shelter has to be cleared of butts on a regular basis.
One visitor in the shelter said, “Whoever introduced the ban doesn’t have much of an understanding of the needs of smokers. There should be a smokers’ area provided – that would be more realistic – with whatever health warning they feel would be appropriate. Obviously an imposed ban isn’t working.”
A Trust spokesperson said, “Following the introduction of the Smoke Free Sites policy (on March 9, 2016) there has been a marked decrease in the level of smoking across all sites and we would like to thank all who use and visit our sites for their support. While most people are adhering to the policy, there is still a minority of people who are not.
“It is unacceptable for patients, visitors and staff to be subjected to second-hand smoking while on health and social care facilities. By creating smoke free environments, supported by stop smoking services, we hope we can take a big step forward in empowering people to quit their habit and live healthier lives.”
The spokesperson added that the Trust continued to offer a free stop-smoking service as well as offering in-patients Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT) during their stay. To make an appointment with the Southern Trust’s FREE Stop Smoking Service contact: Tel: 028 3741 5333 or Email: firstname.lastname@example.org