Smokefree Future Starts Today

12/03/2014

Smokefree Future Starts Today The Trust has announced that a Smokefree future starts today, with smoking being ‘stubbed out’ across all of its sites including acute hospitals and community settings. It is the first Health and Social Care Trust to implement this ban in Northern Ireland.

The Western Trust’s ambitious Smoke Free Policy means that smoking is not permitted anywhere on its grounds or premises. This includes buildings, entrances, doorways, pavements, internal roads, bus / bicycle shelters, cars and car parks.

Smoking is not allowed on site for patients, service users, staff, members of the public and contracted workers. This is a step further than the previous policy as now there is no shelter where patients can smoke and staff are not allowed to smoke in their cars on site. Smoking areas such as the smoking shelter at Altnagelvin Hospital have been removed in advance of introducing this ban.

The Trust’s Chief Executive Elaine Way CBE, said: “A smoking ban is now officially in place which is in line with regional guidelines which state all Trusts should be Smokefree by 2015. As a leading Health and Social Care organisation, we should be encouraging a healthier lifestyle for the public, our patients and staff and smoking is not part of this. I understand how difficult it is to quit and we are committed to doing everything we can do to support staff and patients to successfully quit. It is only right and proper that as a health promoting organisation, we lead by example, and make the Western Trust a smoke-free campus. We want to encourage a cultural shift, so it becomes unthinkable that anyone - staff, patients or visitors would smoke on a Western Trust site.”

The Trust’s main sites have also been decorated with bright red posters encouraging people to maintain our smokefree sites. This bold campaign to put a stop to second hand smoke on Western Trust sites has been widely welcomed by doctors, nurses, patients, visitors and partner organisations.

Elaine Way, CBE continued: “One of our new Smokefree poster slogans states: ‘I didn’t choose to be Asthmatic, but you can choose not to smoke’ This quote from 12 year old Rebecca Lee, who recently attended the South West Acute Hospital Children’s Ward, demonstrates one of the reasons why we are going Smokefree -it is patients like Rebecca, who I feel will really benefit from this change. Our Smokefree future starts today!”

Dr Albert McNeill, the Western Trust’s Lead Clinician for Cardiology and Co-Chair of the Trust’s Smokefree Group said: “I have spent a large part of my professional life dealing with the terrible effects of smoking – deaths from cardiovascular diseases, which includes coronary heart disease and stroke. Smoking is a very powerful addiction and whenever the opportunity comes up to help we should be taking it. Smokers should be aware that if they are smoking when they come into hospital, they are often much more likely to pick up an infection and will be slower to heal. It's therefore in their interests to quit smoking when they are in hospital. Patients admitted to hospital who do smoke, will be offered advice and support including prescribing nicotine replacement therapy to ease withdrawal symptoms. They will also be referred to the Stop Smoking Team. We know that hospitalised patients are the most successful at stopping smoking. Our staff are caring professionals and will behave sensitively towards smokers who are admitted to hospital.”

Dr Maura O’Neill, Head of Health Improvement for the Western Trust added: “Staff have been aware of our intention to introduce a smoking ban for over six months now and we have been publically highlighting the changes to prepare the public and patients. Our survey of staff and patients showed nearly 70 % per cent of staff were in support of a smoking ban while 76% of patients also agreed. Every Western Trust employee has a responsibility to ensure compliance with and implementation of the Smokefree policy. Staff should take pride in working in a smokefree environment and ask anyone, they see smoking to “stub it out” and advise them about our Smokefree policy and our stop smoking services. Our service users and patients also have a right to be cared for in a clean, safe and healthy environment.”

The Public Health Agency (PHA) have supported the Trust in taking this change forward and provided funding for the Trust’s Smokefree Team and additional funding for the implementation of the new smokefree policy. Gerry Bleakney, Strategic Lead for Tobacco Control with the PHA, said: “Reducing the number of people who smoke is a key priority for the PHA and we welcome this move which will assist in protecting the public from the damaging effects of tobacco smoke. By creating smokefree environments and providing stop smoking support services, the Health and Social Care family can help smokers to have the best chance of being able to quit. In our view Health and Social Care should provide an example to others in prompting and supporting cultural change for reducing smoking prevalence. The PHA will continue to support the Trust and congratulates them on being the first to create smokefree campuses.”

Within the Western Area, over 7,500 smokers have accessed a stop smoking service – including their local GP, pharmacy or the Western Trust’s own stop smoking service. This is equivalent to 12% of the West’s smoking population accessing such services. If you want to give up smoking, the Western Trust Stop Smoking Service can give you free advice and support to help you quit – just phone 0800 917 9388. There are drop – in stop smoking clinics based in your local community and you’re four times more likely to quit with our Smokefree service.

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