Almost a third of NHS hospital trusts in England still allow smoking on grounds

Public Health England campaign demands a smoke-free health service
Hospital smoking ban

Public Health England campaign demands a smoke-free health service

Picture: Alamy

Almost one in three NHS hospital trusts in England still allow smoking on site, despite health chiefs having called for a ban since 2013.

A Public Health England (PHE) survey, which gathered responses from 145 hospital trusts, found that 31% (45 of 145) had not banned smoking on their grounds.

In contrast, the survey also found that 69% (100 of 145) of trusts had prohibited smoking on their premises.

Global drive

The PHE findings were released as health organisations around the world mark World No Tobacco Day today.

It is not illegal to smoke on hospital grounds in England, but in 2013 the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence urged NHS hospitals to ban smoking on site.

Duncan Selbie.
Picture: Tim George

And in 2016, PHE chief executive Duncan Selbie wrote to the chief executive of every NHS trust in England, calling for a personal commitment towards a ‘truly smoke-free NHS’.

Highlighting good progress

PHE declined to name the trusts that had failed to become smoke-free, saying that it had guaranteed anonymity to the survey respondents.

However, it named the trusts that were performing well, including Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust, which had replaced all of its smoking shelters with trees and plants.

PHE conducted the survey as part of its Smokefree NHS campaign, which is urging trusts to offer patients support to quit smoking.

Leading by example

Public health minister Seema Kennedy said: ‘No one should have to walk past a cloud of smoke in order to enter or leave their local hospital. We must lead by example and I am determined to see a smoke-free NHS by 2020.

‘Smoking is still one of the biggest causes of death in this country, and through our NHS Long Term Plan every smoker admitted to hospital will now be offered targeted NHS support to quit.

‘I am encouraged by this new survey, which shows that great strides have already been made towards a smoke-free NHS. I strongly urge all trusts to follow suit.’

Smoking on hospital grounds has been banned by law in Northern Ireland and Scotland, while a legal ban is due to be introduced in Wales by the end of the year.

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