Not practical to prevent people smoking at hospital sites’

CAMPAIGNERS have hit out at plans for smoking shelters at four hospitals in the county, including one outside a cancer centre.

Oxfordshire University Hospitals NHS Trust (OUHT) has applied for planning permission to install 12 smoking shelters at the John Radcliffe, Churchill and Nuffield Orthopaedic in Oxford and the Horton General in Banbury.

One of the shelters will be outside the maternity unit at the Horton while another will be outside the current Maggie’s Centre, which looks after cancer patients and their families, at the Churchill Hospital.

David Freeman, of Shipton-on-Cherwell, used Maggie’s Centre during his late wife Joanna's illness.

Mrs Freeman, who founded The Powder Room boutique in Summertown, died of pancreatic cancer in 2011, aged 57.

He said: “There is just something inappropriate about providing facilities for smoking, which must have had an effect on some of the people and families of people going to Maggie’s. At the most basic level it is tactless.”

The current Maggie’s Centre is only temporary, with a new £3m building to be opened in 2014, further away from the proposed smoking shelter.

Maggie’s operations manager Julia Kitteringham said this meant the proposed smoking shelter would not have “much, if any, impact” on centre visitors.

The trust has had a ban on smoking since 2007, before the Government prohibited lighting up in public places.

In May, Andrew White-head, 62, from Carterton, photographed a member of staff smoking in the grounds of the John Radcliffe.

He said: “I am gobsmacked. It is not only condoning, it is encouraging smoking.

“It is in total contradiction to the trust’s own policy, which is stated on the boards as you enter the grounds of the hospital, that there is no smoking on the hospital grounds anywhere.

“Why should NHS money be spent on supplying facilities for someone who is damaging themselves and others?”

A NICE (National Institute for Health and Care Excellence) spokeswoman said OUHT was not following its draft guidance, which states that there should be no concessions for smoking in secondary care, including  creating  designated smoking areas.

The final guidance will be published in November.

Ash (Action on Smoking and Health) research manager Amanda Sandford des-cribed the plans as “rather a backwards step” and not in keeping with current official guidance.

OUHT director of development and the estate Mark Trumper said: “We continue to discourage smoking on all of our hospital sites.

“However, we accept that it has not been practical or enforceable to prevent patients and visitors who insist on smoking on site, therefore we have taken the decision to establish a limited number of smoking shelters for patients and visitors.

“We hope this will encourage people to consider the impact that smoking has on the wider public and to create a more appropriate environment around our entrance areas which is where we historically have had a significant problem.” Blood cigarettes.

He said staff found smoking on the sites will be subject to an internal disciplinary procedure, despite the planning application by GBS Architects stating the shelters will be for patients, visitors and staff. A trust spokesman said the architect’s application was “inaccurate”.

The four-sided aluminium smoking shelters are designed to accommodate six to eight people and, if planning permission is granted, will be installed in early October, OUHT said.

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