The South Eastern Health and Social Care Trust becomes smoke free on today, Wednesday 9 March, National No Smoking Day.
From Wednesday 9 March, the Trust hopes you will no longer see patients in their pyjamas smoking in the doorways of our hospitals smoking. Smoking will be prohibited in all Trust buildings, grounds and car parks at both hospital and community facilities.
It is unacceptable for patients, visitors and staff to be subjected to second-hand smoking while on health and social care facilities. By making this move, the Trust hopes to both protect people’s health directly, and to change the culture and highlight where smoking is not appropriate.
Consultant Cardiologist Dr Andrew Hamilton said: “Our core business is to improve people’s health so this is the right thing to do. If you light up on a health site after 9 March, you may be approached by a member of staff who will politely draw your attention to the smoke free rule.
“By creating a smoke free environment and providing smoking cessation services onsite, we hope to encourage people to use this opportunity to quit smoking. I would like to reassure patients who are going to be admitted to hospital that they can be provided with nicotine replacement products, support and advice on their ward.”
A recent survey has shown that the transformation to smoke free sites has the overwhelming support of the staff, service users and visitors.
The damage to health caused by tobacco is well documented. Smoking can be attributed to around one in ten hospital admissions, and the cost of treating smoking related illnesses in Northern Ireland is around £164 million per year, a sum which would pay the salaries of 8,000 nurses.
Dr Hamilton explained that the Trust is keen to show leadership as a health promoting organisation, and to encourage a cultural shift which will de-normalise the use of tobacco, and lead to more smokers quitting and fewer young people starting to smoke. This ban will help to protect the health of everyone using healthcare facilities.
The South Eastern HSC Trust ‘Stop Smoking’ Team are fully behind this move particularly because they have already seen a huge increase in the numbers of staff enrolling in Smoking Cessation Staff clinics that are freely available across the Trust, and are also expecting a similar increase with service –users.
Evidence shows that policies such as this can be just the `nudge in the right direction` that people need to encourage them to quit smoking long term. Recent statistics suggest that 1 in 20 hospital admissions are due to smoking-related illnesses, so anything that may reduce the numbers of smokers in N.Ireland can only be a good thing, both for the individual concerned, and in the long term for the for the NHS.
The official implementation day of Wednesday 9th March, which is also National No Smoking Day, will be marked by an afternoon event at the Ulster Hospital. Speakers will include Mr Seamus McGoran, Director of Hospital Services, Dr Andrew Hamilton, Consultant Cardiologist and Mrs Lynda Vladeanu, Health Development Manager.
To find your nearest specialist service please visit:
or contact the South Eastern Trust Stop Smoking Team on 028 92 501373.