SHOULD people be allowed to smoke within Bassetlaw Hospital grounds?
That is the question health chiefs are asking patients, visitors and staff in a major consultation launched this month.
Doncaster and Bassetlaw Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust currently has a total ban on smoking - asking anyone to leave the site if they wish to smoke.
But bosses say the ban is not without problems and has proved difficult to enforce since it was brought in in May 2006 - with groups of smokers congregating outside and staff receiving verbal abuse if they ask them to move.
Deputy director of nursing Victoria Bagshaw, who is leading the review, said they want ‘practical’ and ‘effective’ solutions to manage the problem.
“We discourage smoking because it is very harmful to health, but at the same time we recognise that many smokers are addicted and will feel they need a cigarette while at the hospital - especially if someone they care about is extremely unwell,” she said.
“We also don’t like to see patients from the wards leaving the site to stand on street corners in the cold and rain while they smoke.”
She added: “It’s a subject many people have strong views on and we want to hear both sides - in particular whether or not people think the current policy is working and if not, what we should do about it while recognising that we don’t have the resouces to operate smoking patrols on our sites.”
A straw poll of our Facebook readers showed most people are in favour of keeping the ban, with 91 people voting for it and 42 people against.
One worker at the hospital, who wished to remain anonymous, agreed a solution needed to be found.
“I’m a smoker but agree it’s not good for people to be smoking outside the entrance - it doesn’t paint a good image for the hospital,” he said.
“In an ideal world people wouldn’t smoke, but hospitals can be very stressful places and people will smoke. They should designate a sheltered area in the car park people can use.”
Regular patient Alison Davies agreed: “Something needs to be done. Many people throw their used butts on the floor outside, which ruins it for other people,” she said.
People can submit their views online at www.surveymonkey.com/s/dbhsmoking, email firstname.lastname@example.org, tweet to @DBH_NHSFT (#dbsmoke) or write to Smoking Taskforce, Management Suite, Doncaster Royal Infirmary, Armthorpe Road, Doncaster DN2 5LT. The closing date is 14th September 2012.