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To be a bit unsure about the practicalities of smoke-free hospitals?

(88 Posts)
Writerwannabe83 Tue 13-Jan-15 12:19:52

I have just heard on the radio that a hospital has gone Smoke Free in the sense that neither staff or patients can smoke on hospital grounds. My initial thought was that it is a good thing but at the same time I did wonder if it was a bit unfair on the smokers?

I know it's ironic to see patients having a cigarette outside the hospital entrance and I know it's not ideal to have staff smelling of cigarettes but at the same time, smoking is an addiction and how realistic or helpful is it to make patients and staff go cold turkey?

If a nurse is working from 07.15-20.30pm then 13 hours without a cigarette may be a long time for some staff who are used to their cigarette breaks and could their craving affect their work if they feel stressed without a cigarette, I don't know?

Also, if a patient can't go outside for their usual cigarette break will having nicotine withdrawal symptoms for days on end really be beneficial to their recovery (assuming their admission isn't related to their smoking)?

Maybe I'm being naive but I just have my misgivings about it. I understand the public health reasons for doing it but I can't help but think there will be some negatives within this initiative.

I have visions of ill people not going to A&E when they perhaps need to because they would worry they would be admitted and not be able to smoke.....

PourquoiTuGachesTaVie Tue 13-Jan-15 12:21:44

My local hospital is smoke free.

There are still people crowded around the entrances (including the maternity wing) surrounded by clouds of smoke.

specialsubject Tue 13-Jan-15 12:22:07

smoking is indeed an addiction. With plenty of help available to beat it, for free. No-one needs to stay hooked in the UK.

currently struggling to get NHS treatment for someone who doesn't indulge in regular cancer-causing, evil-smelling, dirty drugs. So no sympathy at all.

Sn00p4d Tue 13-Jan-15 12:23:16

Surely they can still smoke if they take themselves to outside the hospital grounds? I'm 35 weeks pregnant and having to walk through a cloud of smoke at the front door every time I have an appointment isn't exactly fair either, they can't win really.

Writerwannabe83 Tue 13-Jan-15 12:26:22

The hospital in question is quite extensive and to walk off the hospital grounds would take about 5-10m for an able bodied person. Plus patients wouldn't be allowed off the hospital grounds would they? Or can they go wandering the streets in their hospital gowns? grin

TarkaTheOtter Tue 13-Jan-15 12:26:45

It's been like this in my home town hospital for years. They turn a bit of a blind eye so long as it's well away from buildings. Sadly it seems to be the only way to stop people smoking next to the ward and clinic windows/main entrance.

Writerwannabe83 Tue 13-Jan-15 12:28:57

That's really interesting tarka - so the initiative is there as more of a "look what we're doing" image as opposed to actually seeing it through?

smilingthroughgrittedteeth Tue 13-Jan-15 12:29:35

My hospital is smoke free supposedly but there is a smoking shelter at the back end of the car park.

Patients still stand outside the entrance smoking and like sn00p4d at 30 weeks pregnant it really isn't pleasent having to walk through a cloud of smoke, it's worse for DP who is asthmatic.

GraysAnalogy Tue 13-Jan-15 12:31:55

I think there should be some sort of area in which they can go to smoke, out of the eyes of the general public and where the smoke won't affect a non smoker.

It's funny how people are so thoughtful towards people who overeat because of 'food addition' but smokers can get dragged through the mud.

TheCowThatLaughs Tue 13-Jan-15 12:32:17

Staff can walk off the grounds on their breaks in order to smoke. In practice this can lead to a lot of breaks ime, especially if there are a lot of smokers on the ward and it's accepted instead of frowned on.
Patients can be prescribed nicotine patches, but in real life they just sit on benches and smoke, often in the freezing cold at 7am.
I'm an on/off smoker myself so have every sympathy with the patients, but think that discouraging people from smoking is a good thing, also making it less convenient makes people smoke less
I think staff should not be allowed to smoke on duty, but I know that would be controversial

EveDallasRetd Tue 13-Jan-15 12:32:41

I remember years ago, when smoking was still allowed inside hospitals, my aunt being told she couldn't be discharged until her BP went down. She told the doctors "If you'd let me have a fag, my BP wouldn't be so high"

She had her cigarette, and sure enough her BP went back to normal and she was allowed to go home.

It does make me wonder whether doctors take withdrawal into consideration when looking at patients/charts.

WorraLiberty Tue 13-Jan-15 12:33:33

currently struggling to get NHS treatment for someone who doesn't indulge in regular cancer-causing, evil-smelling, dirty drugs. So no sympathy at all.

So you'll have no sympathy for the overweight/obese, who are costing the NHS billions due to their food addictions?

Nobody needs to be addicted to anything if there is help available

But addiction by its very nature is normally a lot more deep seated than that.

Germgirl Tue 13-Jan-15 12:33:46

The last 3 hospitals I worked at have been supposedly smoke free. It just doesn't work, there are signs everywhere, particularly at the main entrance, only you can't see those ones because there are always people standing in front of them puffing away, often hooked up to a drip, a catheter bag strapped to their leg. Sometimes they have oxygen tanks too, that always makes me cringe a bit, naked flames + compressed gas. Never a good combination.
My point is though, the ban won't work, it will be ignored and the security people will very very quickly get fed up with telling people to stop.
And the staff will continue to smoke, of course they will. Seriously, nothing will change.

TheCowThatLaughs Tue 13-Jan-15 12:37:19

My friend's mum was on the ante natal ward, pregnant with twins, about 25 years ago and there was a smoking room on the ward
That is almost unbelievable to people today, so there definitely has been a change in opinion. I think it's quite unusual to see a pregnant woman smoking now (of course she has every right to do so if she wishes!)

bigbluebus Tue 13-Jan-15 12:37:19

Interesting topic, as DH and I were discussing this only the other day following a tweet from a senior staff member at out local General Hospital along the lines of "Could 2015 be the year the hospital becomes smoke free."

Neither DH nor I smoke and after discussion, we both agree that this would be totally unfair and probably unworkable. If you are in prison, you are entitled to be provided with somewhere to smoke as it is your place of residence - so on that basis, if you are a hospital in-patient you should be afforded the same priveledge. I know you are technically free to leave if you so wish (unlike prisoners) but that might not be the best course of action.

Also, many staff work 12 hour shifts and that is a long time to go without a cigarette if you need one. I'm not saying I agree with smoking but am prepared to accept that for some people it is necessary and I don't want to see lines of staff and patients along the main road smoking. This used to happen at the campus where DD used to go to school (there were 2 schools and a nursery) and it looked horrible (groups of staff huddled together in the middle of winter having a cigarette on the roadside.

GraysAnalogy Tue 13-Jan-15 12:37:51

worra said what I was thinking.

MidniteScribbler Tue 13-Jan-15 12:38:18

I hate smoking, but I don't think it's practical to not have a designated smoking place, especially when being in hospital or a family member is can be an exceptionally stressful time, not really the right time to try and quit an addiction. All the hospitals I've been to have quite extensive grounds, so surely a few spaces could be set up which are designated for smoking, then the no smoking areas (particularly near doors) is strictly enforced.

EveDallasRetd Tue 13-Jan-15 12:40:12

When I was hospitalised in Germany every ward had a smoking balcony at the end of the floor, even the maternity ward shock. You couldn't smoke anywhere in the building, or in the 'recovery garden' (a landscaped enclosed area with rabbits and koi carp!), but could go through the lounge onto a really comfortable seating area.

That was back in 2005 - I wonder if they still have them?

QueenTilly Tue 13-Jan-15 12:42:09

Smoke-free on the whole grounds? Oh, FGS. I hate cigarette smoke. It sets off coughing, chokimg and crap. I am honestly not putting it on for attentiin. And do you know what I hate? "Smoke-free grounds" policies. They always lead to everyone clustering round entrances smoking, where everyone needs to walk past. Definition of focusing on the words, rather than the effects.

Bin the "smoke-free grounds" policy and set up proper, officially sanctioned smoking shelters, in a convenient, easily accessible location (for patients and staff) that is still away from the entrance and the windows to ICU, etc.

bigbluebus Tue 13-Jan-15 12:42:23

I think hospitals shoudl spend more time/money helping people to give up rather than just imposing bans.

DropYourSword Tue 13-Jan-15 12:43:30

See where you're coming from Worra but the issue is that everybody needs to eat. Nobody needs to smoke, it was a choice to begin with. Not that I don't think they deserve help.
Currently being debated where I live is whether people should be allowed to smoke on their own balconies. Hospital grounds was ostensibly smoke free, but the exclusion zone increases this week.

WorraLiberty Tue 13-Jan-15 12:46:34

Yes everybody needs to eat but nobody needs to overeat. Yet they do because they have an addiction or other deep seated problems.

To simply say no-one needs to smoke because their is plenty help available to beat is, is just as disingenuous as saying no-one needs to be fat because there is plenty help available to lose weight.

It's daft and dismissive.

wtfhappened Tue 13-Jan-15 12:47:42

A smoking ban on a hospital site is actually non-enforceable. I have worked in 3 trusts that went smoke free years ago but nobody gets challenged when they are smoking. I know alot of this comes from people not knowing the circumstances......I remember a few years ago (in my previous trust) we had just lost a 40-something year old man in resus (I'm an A&E nurse), the trust had introduced the no smoking rule a few weeks previously but his 18 year old daughter was beside herself (and alone as no other family had made it to the dept yet) and I showed her outside for a fag. One of our domestic staff (well known for being very nosey ha ha) marched up to her as I was walking back in barking at her to put it out as it was a no smoking site. I was just about to turn around to tell her to leave it when this girl shouted 'I've just lost my dad you fucking arse, the least you could do is leave me to have a fag to calm down'. Normally I wouldn't condone this abuse on staff but I felt it was justified, in the circumstances.

I would never tell someone to stop smoking, hospitals are one of the most stressful environments. People get given bad news about themselves/relatives, they've lost a child or a sibling or a partner...the horrible possibilities are endless.

GraysAnalogy Tue 13-Jan-15 12:49:43

DropYourSword no that doesn't wash, no-one needs to overeat. No-one needs to eat the sort of foods that are typically seen as bad for you and contribute to weight gain.

People are always going on about how people who overeat are victims because they have deep-seated reasons behind their food addiction and that they shouldn't face a backlash. This courtesy isn't extended to smokers though.

People can't have it both ways.

Quintanimo Tue 13-Jan-15 12:50:12

We have a smoking shelter in the car park.

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