THE Western Trust has vowed to become the first ‘smoke-free’ health authority in Northern Ireland in time for National No Smoking Day on March 12, 2014.
The Western Trust’s new Smoke Free Policy will replace the Trust’s current policy and will mean that smoking will not be permitted anywhere on its grounds or premises.
This includes buildings, entrances, pavements and car parks. No smoking will be allowed on site for patients, service users, staff member of the public and contracted workers.
This is a step further than the previous policy as there will be no shelter where patients can smoke and staff will not be allowed to smoke in their cars on site.
Western Trust Chief Executive Elaine Way said: “A decision was made by the Trust Board to become completely smoke free on 12 March 2014.
“As a health service employer we recognise the hazards to health that smoking causes, both for smokers and for those breathing in other people’s smoke. The health of our patients and staff is a top priority for the Trust and we wish to provide the best environment for those who come to work in our facilities.
“We realise that becoming a smoke free Trust will take time to achieve – however maintaining a smoke free environment in and around our hospitals is everyone’s business and we are committed to ensuring it becomes the norm to benefit everyone’s health.”
Dr Albert McNeill, Consultant Cardiologist at Altnagelvin Hospital and Co- chair of the Trust’s Smokefree Committee, added: “The Trust has been moving towards creating a smoke free environment for a number of years.
“Smoking on our sites is unfair to those who do not smoke and have no choice but to enter our facilities often past people who are smoking.
“We also know that smoking is the major contributor to poor health so developing a smoke-free environment will allow us to make a real difference to the health of the local population, something that we are truly passionate about.”
Dr Maura O’Neill, Head of Health Improvement for the Western Trust said: “Becoming a smoke free Trust is great news for the West and reinforces the Trust’s position as a health promoting organisation with a responsibility for the health of its patients, staff and visitors.
“Becoming a smoke free Trust not only means cleaner and more pleasant environments but also offers real improvements to the health of those smokers who decide to ‘kick the habit’ for good. Help and support from the Western Trust’s Stop Smoking Team is available for staff, patients, visitors and the local community.”
She added: “Every Western Trust employee will be responsible for ensuring compliance with and implementation of the smoke free policy.
“All staff, members of the public and patients will have a role to play to discourage people smoking and advise them about the Trust’s policy and stop smoking services.”
Dr Andrew Hamilton Consultant Cardiologist at the South West Acute Hospital added: “With the help and support of staff in the Western Trust Smoking Cessation Service, patients and staff who wish to quit smoking are able to access nicotine replacement therapy.
“The purpose of informing the public and staff now is to raise awareness in advance of 12 March 2014 and to provide support to staff, patients and the public who wish to stop smoking.”
Fran Mc Carney, Domestic at the South West Acute Hospital said: “I had been a smoker for 42 years and gave up smoking because of health reasons and I was just fed up with smoking. The smoking cessation support that was provided just came at the right time for me and I feel my health has dramatically improved since quitting.”
Dr Hamilton continued: “One of the questions people will ask is what will happen when a person who smokes is admitted to hospital. We are going to be there to support them every step of the way. Whilst in hospital, patients will be asked if they smoke.
“For patients who do smoke, they will be offered advice and support to quit including prescribing nicotine replacement therapy to ease withdrawal symptoms. They will also be referred to the Stop Smoking Team.”
If you want to give up smoking, Western Trust Stop Smoking Service can be contacted on 0800 917 9388.