Patients fed up with walking through clouds of cigarette smoke as they enter Blackpool Victoria Hospital can now give culprits a telling off – at the push of a button.
Bosses at the hospital, in Whinney Heys Road, have installed several buttons, which play a recorded message telling visitors to stub it out in a bid to crackdown on the deadly habit.
It comes after chiefs previously admitted they were powerless to stop people from lighting up, despite the impact on their health and the NHS’s ever-shallowing pockets.
Smoking costs the health service around £12.9bn a year nationally.
“Smoking is an addiction and this system aims to encourage people to quit,” Hannah Foxcroft, the Vic’s healthier workforce manager said. “We are a healthcare provider and it is vital we take every possible step to discourage smoking for the good of all our patients, visitors, and staff. People often have to pass through cigarette smoke when accessing the hospital and this is totally unacceptable.”
Blackpool has one of the highest smoking rates in the country – and tops the north west league of shame for smoking-related hospital admissions.
Marie Thompson, the Vic’s director of nursing and quality, told colleagues it was a “challenge” for staff to prevent patients from going outside for a puff at a meeting last year.
“Not only [is smoking] against trust policy, the patients were outside in cold weather wearing only bed clothes.”
And the new system, outside the main entrance and women and children’s unit and activated by buttons on the main reception desk, on the wall outside near the car parking office, or just inside the women’s unit – is already working.
“We have noticed that patients and visitors have moved away ... or put their cigarettes out,” Hannah said.