Hospital smoking ban being flouted

Craigavon Area Hospital. INLM02-110gc
Craigavon Area Hospital. INLM02-110gc

A smoking ban introduced at Craigavon Area Hospital is regularly flouted, staff and patients have said, leading to some describing it as a farce.

And the outright ban looks set to be modified if a court rules in favour of an inpatient at a mental health unit in another health trust.

Last month the Trust banned smoking at all its facilities and grounds.

One man said nothing appears to have changed and people are still smoking on the grounds.

While inpatients at some mental health units in the province are to be exempt from the smoking ban on some hospital grounds, the South Eastern Trust agreed to temporarily lift the ban while a review is undertaken.

Last week a judge in Belfast’s High Court was told the review would decide if the ban should be extended to inpatients in mental health wards.

The review is expected to take at least six months. The ruling is the outcome of a legal fight by a 23-year-old woman detained on an acute psychiatric ward.

Under legislation no staff, patients, contractors or visitors can smoke on any Health and Social Care site in NI. Her laywers say the ban discriminates against a patient who is currently unable to leave.

In court on Thursday it was confirmed a resolution had been reached. The Trust agreed to review its decision.

A spokesperson for the local Trust said: “The Southern Trust took a decision to make Trust facilities and grounds completely smokefree from 9 March 2016. We are currently reviewing any potential implications of the decision by the South Eastern Trust, but have no plans to change our policy at present.”