Hospital blasted for proposed smoking shelter next to cancer ward
17th January 2013
Bosses at The University of North Staffordshire hospital have caused a huge outpouring of anger after its plans to construct a smoking shelter outside a cancer ward were made public. The hospital initially spoke of their proposed planning permission for five smoking shelters on-site in October of last year after staff, patients and visitors complained that smokers were repeatedly ignoring the rules regarding the strict no-smoking policy for directly outside the entrances to the hospital. However, further complaints were also made because of the fact that smokers would often convene in large groups on the A34, which is close by. At the time, The hospital's chief nurse Liz Rix said: “We want to encourage people not to smoke because of their health, but it's become very difficult [to enforce the smoking ban].We have had so many complaints from staff, patients and visitors to the hospital about what you can see outside the grounds that we thought we had to try something different." She also added that the hospital ‘absolutely do not condone’ smoking and would be ‘encouraging and supporting’ patients to stop smoking altogether. If Stoke-on-Trent City Council give the go-ahead for the planning application (a decision is expected in February), then the five smoking shelters are to be erected next to two main entrances, the hospital’s maternity block, the accident and emergency unit and what has maybe caused the most fury – outside of the hospital’s cancer ward. Cancer charities and people who have suffered with the deadly disease – commonly attributed to smoking – have now spoke out and blasted the prospect of a smoking shelter right beside a place where people are being treated for cancer, arguing it is a thoughtless and insensitive move from the hospital. Cancer survivor Harry Larkins, 70, from Cheadle, Staffs, successfully managed to overcome cancer back in 2009 but still attends a check-up each year at the hospital. He hit out at the plans and said: “I know they have to accommodate smokers, but a lot of people in the cancer ward have smoked throughout their lives and don't need reminding that could be the reason they are there. It's just plain insensitive. It is a huge site and they could put them somewhere a lot more discreet. I think it's a terrible error of judgement.” Councillor Colin Eastwood, chairman of Newcastle Borough Council's Health Scrutiny Committee, gave a scathing verdict of the hospital’s smoking shelters, saying: “I don't feel the shelters are really addressing the problem of smoking. It is almost like condoning smoking. Smoking is a real issue in the local area and it concerns me that the hospital is providing for them. What they should be doing is supporting smokers who are admitted to hospital to quit the habit.” To try and defend the plans, the chief nurse Lisa Rix commented: “We do not condone smoking on our premises by patients, visitors or staff. However, a degree of pragmatism has been adopted to keep the hospital clean and tidy and smokers away from building entrances. The beautiful main entrance has become a particular problem area with a large number of smokers congregating and at times it has been difficult to keep the area clean. We accept this has caused problems for neighbouring residential areas and are working with unions to see what actions can be taken to alleviate this. We enforce a blanket ban on staff smoking on our property and staff will not be allowed to use the shelters.” Smoking is without doubt the most avoidable cause of many cancers and is often directly linked to throat, mouth, cervix, stomach, bowel and kidney cancer. The biggest killer though in regards to smoking-related cancers is lung cancer – responsible for over four out of every five cancer cases. Unfortunately lung cancer has one of the worst survival rates of any type of cancer but it is preventable with swift action that involves quitting smoking as soon as possible before it is too late. Many people are able to give up smoking through the aid of the smoking cessation medication Champix, which works by replicating the effect of nicotine on the body. Therefore, it both reduces the urge to smoke and relieves withdrawal symptoms. Although you are not recommended to smoke after your quit date, Champix can also reduce the enjoyment of cigarettes if you do smoke when on treatment. It is available today from Medical Specialists Pharmacy from as little as just £75.00 per pack.