Martin Magee, Porter, Altnagelvin Hospital; Mary Campbell, Western Trust Smoking Cessation Nurse Specialist, Altnagelvin Hospital; Dr Albert McNeill Co-Chair of the Western Trust’s Smokefree Board and Lead Clinician for Cardiology and Alan Corry-Finn, Western Trust Executive Director of Nursing and Director of Primary Care & Older Peoples Services
The ban, which has been the subject of much debate, will be mean that the hospital will no longer provide smoking areas for patients and staff. Smoking will not be permitted anywhere within the grounds of the hospital - and staff are no longer permitted to smoke in their cars on site.
Dr. Albert McNeill, consultant cardiologist and Co. Chair on the Trust’s Smoke Free policy committee said the decision to declare all sites “smoke free” was made to “protect and promote the health and patients, staff and visitors”.
He accepted that there had been some consternation about the blanket ban - but said the Trust would be offering help to all those who needed support to quitting smoking.
“The decision was not made to be punitive towards smokers,” he said. “And we do appreciate that in some cases patients or visitors may be under a great deal of stress which may lead them to reach for a cigarette as a crutch.
“But our staff will be working to support those who are struggling. We will be providing free nicotine replacement therapy and offering what support we can.”
The decision to extend the smoke free policy to staff cars within hospital grounds was, he said, “a clinical one”.
“What we found was that due to the confined nature of a car people were returned to a clinical setting smelling very strongly of smoke which was not good clinical practice.”
He added that the Trust was continuing to work “tirelessly” to provide help to those who wished to have support quitting smoking.