Queen Elizabeth Hospital in King's Lynn finds smoking ban 'unenforceable'

A Norfolk hospital is to build three smoking shelters at a total cost of £17,000 after finding a no-smoking rule impossible to enforce.

Managers at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in King's Lynn said the blanket ban, introduced five years ago, was being ignored by too many people.

Complaints had also been received about people smoking outside the front entrance of the hospital.

One of the shelters is being built opposite the main entrance.

No legal powers

It is being constructed in the style of a bus stop with a display panel for information on giving up smoking.

Gwyneth Wilson said: "The smoking ban imposed on all NHS sites was largely ignored by visitors and patients and we had no legal powers to enforce it.

"Our staff often experienced abuse and threats when we asked smokers to stop or offered help via the NHS to kick their habit."

Ms Wilson said that although smoking could be seen as a safety valve for some who had received bad news, the hospital would continue to help people to stop smoking by encouraging them to attend clinics or get help from chemists, GP practices and other occupational health advice services.

"Dealing with smoking-related diseases costs the NHS a huge sum each year which could usefully be spent on treating other conditions," she added.

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