NHS told to stop turning 'blind eye' to smoking

Smoking patient The guidance applies to hospitals and mental health units

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The NHS must stop turning a "blind eye" to smoking and ban it in all hospital grounds in England, according to new guidance.

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence said it wanted to see smoking shelters scrapped so patients, visitors and staff could not light up.

Staff should also stop helping patients out of their beds to go for a smoke.

And patients who smoke must be identified and offered help to quit, the guidance added.

It said nurses, doctors and other staff could give brief advice and then refer smokers on to NHS stopping smoking services.

Smoking rates are particularly high among mental health patients with one in three smoking, rising to 70% in psychiatric units.

That compares with the one in five among the general population who are smokers.

How one hospital in Cambridge has struggled to stub out smoking

The guidance, which is voluntary for the NHS to follow, even suggested staff caught smoking should be disciplined.

'Too long'

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) conceded some parts of the NHS had already adopted these approaches, but said the idea of the guidance was to make sure it became consistent across the health service.

NICE public health director Prof Mike Kelly said the NHS had turned a "blind eye" for too long.

"It has been tolerated by the NHS and it is high time that stopped.

"NHS hospitals and staff have a duty of care to protect the health of people who use or work in their services.

"We need to end the terrible spectacle of people on drips in hospital gowns smoking outside hospital entrances."

In practice, he said, doctors and nurses could provide nicotine replacement therapies and advise patients about counselling to ensure they were not "going up the wall" with nicotine cravings.

He acknowledged that stopping a determined smoker from going outside to light up was "clearly very difficult".

"This is not about imposing some sort of penal regime in which doctors, nurses, administrators spend all their time trying to enforce a series of rules and regulations."

He said it was about a culture shift and removing smoking shelters would help eliminate any subliminal message that it was ok to smoke around a hospital.

Stress relief

Stephen Dalton, of the NHS Confederation, which represents NHS trusts, said the guidance was welcome.

"A total ban on smoking complements the duty of care on healthcare staff and the organisation to protect the health of people in their care and promote healthy behaviour."

Dr John Moore-Gillon, a lung specialist, said there was no doubt that smoking rates fell in environments where it was banned, pointing to smoking bans in pubs, clubs and public buildings.

"And they're actually more likely to give up smoking if they're given this advice when they're in a hospital or other health care setting," he added.

But Simon Clark, of smokers' lobby group Forest, said: "NHS staff have a duty of care to protect people's health, but that doesn't include the right to nag, cajole or bully smokers to quit.

"Tobacco is a legal product and a lot of people smoke to relieve stress.

"It's not only heartless and inhumane to ban patients from smoking outside hospitals and clinics, it's almost impossible to enforce without installing CCTV cameras and employing wardens to monitor the grounds."


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  • rate this

    Comment number 931.

    @925 Alpharius - actually if you're in for a broken ankle smoking does have an impact.

    Healing a traumatic injury eg broken ankle is aided by a good blood flow which is impaired by smoking which causes vasoconstriction.

  • rate this

    Comment number 930.

    Targeting smokers freedom of choice as usual, but are they going to stop fat people buying food from the hospital cafe or shop too ? Sorry you're too fat , can't serve you

  • rate this

    Comment number 929.

    Would folks be happy if an alcoholic had to have a can of booze in the grounds in case they got withdrawal symptoms.

  • rate this

    Comment number 928.

    I'm not a smoker, but it does not seem to be simply about addiction in all cases. Some genuinely seem to enjoy it, & they must surely be allowed their place in an all-inclusive society. Regardless of any other factors, there will always be a minority who are prepared to die for principals such as self-determination & perhaps we should thank them - after all we ALL enjoy our freedoms!

  • rate this

    Comment number 927.

    How many of these smoker bashers are drinkers?
    Go to the local A&E on a Friday and Sturday night and see all the drunks covered in blood
    People only moan about the things they do not endulge in

  • rate this

    Comment number 926.

    After reading comments by R S Shand (897) and andy (911), I have resolved to spend more time on Aquinas and less on HYS; so thanks to both of them for putting me on the right path. I shall, however, as always find my thought process helped by some sweet virginia.

  • rate this

    Comment number 925.

    The only time there should be a smoking ban on a patient is when they have a condition that would be aggravated by smoking, like lung cancer.

    If you're in for a broken ankle, smoke away!

  • rate this

    Comment number 924.

    smoking is now considered evil and all smokers are scum? don't worry though alcohol is fine that doesn't cause any problems not like those evil smokers. This smoking debate says a lot about our society. If I don't do it then ban it and hate everyone who does it.

  • rate this

    Comment number 923.

    Presumably this also includes hospital staff.
    Personally, I'd rather be treated by a calm, relaxed nurse whose stinking of smoke, than a nurse who's anxious and stressed because she cant get a decent cigarette break.

  • rate this

    Comment number 922.

    899: DSA
    Instead of insulting those with a different opinion, why not try thinking up a coherent argument that could be backed up by little things called facts.

  • rate this

    Comment number 921.

    If the medical profession refused to treat anyone with a self inflicted condition.
    Your choice to live outside an oxygen tent and breath air that carries germs - any condition you ever have is self inflicted.

    We're obviously not taxing it enough

    Think the same about cars, alcohol, food, sport or the rest of life - same flawed logic applies!

  • rate this

    Comment number 920.

    @905 "Or would you treat a smoker for a broken leg, just not for lung cancer?"

    He probably wouldn't. The is evidence that smoking makes you more vulnerable to breaking bones and then it takes longer to heal.

    Anyway the NHS is there to treat, not judge.

  • rate this

    Comment number 919.

    Just because one smokes, does not Necessarily mean that one will die of Cancer. Don't get me wrong, I just don't like some dozy half wit telling me what I can or can't do, within the law of the land. Emotional Balckmail also doesn't work! STOP PREACHING TO US!

  • rate this

    Comment number 918.

    To those saying about second hand smoke being bad for your health, I'd like to point you to this video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LUIB4k9vgIg

  • rate this

    Comment number 917.

    How about banning smoking in the whole of the UK? Oh sorry that's not an option we raise far too much tax on it - oh yes and that would be an infringement on our rights and the Government would never do that - whatever. Another useless piece of distraction mean to keep us looking away whilst the countries economy falls to pieces.

  • rate this

    Comment number 916.


    Your sums still don't add up, plus you've neglected to take into account the reduced costs of elderly care and pensions from smokers dying early.
    The elderly are the biggest drain on the state and NHS, perhaps you'd like to start a campaign for euthanasia ?

  • rate this

    Comment number 915.

    @906 - 60 per day, surely if he can afford that he can have whatever op he needs done privately!

    For the smoking costs when did we start adding this up, not from when the NHS started... must be some back dated debt there.

  • rate this

    Comment number 914.

    @899 Your statement that smokers are ipso facto benefit-claimants perfectly demonstrates that warped anti-smoking prejudices displayed in this thread.

    And as an aside, the moderators are obviously similarly warped, or maybe just sensationalist - after all, provocative posts like yours draw more attention to the site, so why would they care that its demonstrably inept?

  • rate this

    Comment number 913.

    Sieg Heil,

  • rate this

    Comment number 912.

    903.koz Listen mate have a ciggie, it might calm you down, most drug addicts take a hit one way or the other, go nuts!


Page 3 of 49


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