Smoking will be fully banned at the Royal United Hospital in Bath by the end of the year.
It is currently advertised as a smoke-free site but there are designated shelters for lighting up that will be removed to end the ‘conflicting messages’.
Vaping will be allowed but anyone wanting to smoke will have to leave the site – a move expected to upset neighbouring residents.
Director of people Claire Ridley told the hospital trust board: “There is some concern we are giving conflicting messages.
“We are smoke free but have smoking shelters.
“By the end of this year we have to be smoke free.
“We have some work to do to build support for our staff around smoking cessation.
“Probably the most challenging aspect is enforcement.
“What expectation do we have on our staff? What sanctions could there be for repeat offenders? Enforcement is the key to this.”
Why do they have to be smoke free by the end of the year? Instructions from the DoH?
What’s so bad about sending “conflicting messages”? Is it the job of hospitals to send messages? What other messages is the hospital sending? And to whom?
And what’s a “director of people”? Don’t directors always direct people? Is “director of people” another word for “busybody”?
And if they are going to have to work to build support among their staff, it sounds like their staff don’t much like it.
It doesn’t sound like the chief executive does either:
James Scott, the trust’s chief executive, said: “This is a significant challenge for us and every hospital I’ve ever been in, including abroad.
“Don’t think this is an NHS problem.
“We will be forcing smokers off-site – that’s our patients and staff.
“The consequence is we will get more and more complaints from our neighbours.
“That’s what’s happened every time we’ve done this in the past.
“Legally, provided staff are outside our curtilage, they can smoke.
“There’s nothing we can do about that, other than be aware about the increased risk of complaints.
“Engaging with our neighbours will be helpful.”
He said some doctors may object to the ban because of the calming effect that smoking can have in stressful situations.
Public Health England recognises vaping as an effective tool for quitting smoking but Mr Scott said there is some emerging evidence that it “isn’t as harmless as it’s currently thought to be”.
He’s pointing out all the downsides: It’s a universal problem. It forces patients and staff off-site. It annoys the neighbours. Even some doctors may object. Vaping isn’t harmless either. That’s five downsides, and not a single upside.
If it’s legal to smoke outside the curtilage, does that mean it’s illegal to smoke inside it. What law is being invoked?
Doesn’t banning smoking while permitting vaping also send a “conflicting message”?
Doesn’t forcing smokers off-site send a “conflicting message” to the neighbours: “We’re not having anyone smoke in our grounds, so we’re off-loading them onto yours”? One rule for us, another for you.
Nigel Stevens, a non-executive director of the trust, asked if there had been any research into how smoking bans affect staff retention – which is an issue for the RUH.
Doesn’t sound like he’s much of a fan either.