Maternity staff and patients at James Cook University Hospital on Teesside have launched an initiative to encourage smokers to “rethink their habits” and avoid smoking by main entrances and exits.
A group from the hospital’s family and birth forum have been campaigning to highlight the impact that smoking at the women and children’s entrance has on staff and patients.
“My staff have been on the receipt of verbal abuse and at times made to feel quite uncomfortable about the potential of physical violence”
They have used a variety of ways to engage smokers from leaflets and professional advice for those wanting to quit to posters designed by children being treated at the hospital.
South Tees Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust said it had an “ongoing problem” with getting smokers to comply with the smoke-free rules outside of the hospital’s buildings.
It regularly received complaints from patients and staff regarding people smoking near entrance ways, the trust said.
Trust chief executive Professor Tricia Hart called on the local community and public in general to support the initiative, which she described as a “major public health issue”.
“It seems anomalous that no one smokes on a train platform yet our hospital entrances are often surrounded by plumes of smoke from visitors,” she said.
“When we politely ask people to refrain from smoking on the site, my staff, including me have been on the receipt of verbal abuse and at times made to feel quite uncomfortable about the potential of physical violence,” she stated.
But clinical matron Lynne Young suggested the message from the campaigners was one of support rather than pressure.
“New mums often say it is unpleasant that the first experience of the outside world for their babies is a group of smokers”
She said: “We want to be compassionate but we want to keep the environment clean and safe for the majority of staff and patients who don’t smoke.
“New mums often say it is unpleasant that the first experience of the outside world for their babies is a group of smokers,” noted Ms Young.
“We don’t want to harass people but we want them to know there is support available if they want help to quit,” she added.