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Speaker to address passive smoking outside Cumberland Infirmary

Stephen Eames, CEO, Dr John Atkinson, clinical director for respiratory, Elain Crooks, head of nursing for patient experience, Louise Bowman, patient, Jane Culley, patient experience team, and Georgina Ternent, Public Health Locality Manager for Cumbria County Council

A new speaker system has been installed at the Cumberland Infirmary, Carlisle to tackle the effects of passive smoking on patients and visitors to the hospital.

The speaker, activated by a button placed inside the main entrance, will play one of eight pre-recorded messages asking patients and visitors to the hospital not to smoke anywhere on Trust property and especially at the main entrance.

The move comes following feedback from patients and visitors that they regularly are required to pass through second hand smoke when visiting or leaving the hospital.  It is one of the top concerns raised through the Trust’s patient access and liaison service.

A member of the public commented: “Today I took my wife to the Cumberland Infirmary for an outpatient appointment.

“Walking to the main entrance we were met by a number of smokers puffing away next to the no smoking signs.

“As someone who has COPD, I’m sure you can appreciate how unpleasant it was for me having to walk past the smokers, and having to inhale their smoke.”

All North Cumbria University Hospitals Trust (NCUH) sites are smoke free areas and if this initial speaker is successful more will be rolled out to other areas of the hospital and to West Cumberland Hospital in Whitehaven.

The health impact of smoking is well known and, as a provider of healthcare, the Trust must ensure that it is doing everything it can to protect staff patients and visitors from second hand smoke and encourage everyone to adopt healthier lifestyles.

All patients who are treated at the Trust’s hospitals can have free nicotine replacement therapy and we can refer them for support to help them quit once they are discharged.

Stephen Eames, NCUH chief executive, said: “This new system allows everyone to challenge people who choose to smoke outside our hospital without confrontation.

“If people want to smoke then that’s their choice but we want to make it clear that they cannot do so on our premises. We have new-born babies coming out into the world for the first time and they should not have to pass a cloud of cigarette smoke.”

Dr John Atkinson, clinical director for respiratory at the Trust, said: “The harmful effects of smoking are well publicised, what we’re trying to do is make sure that every patient we see gets the help and support they need to quit and will no longer feel the need to stand outside and smoke.

“The Trust wants to promote a healthy atmosphere and we know that people who smoke have longer recovery times and have much higher risks during hospital procedures.

“We also know the vast majority of our patients and visitors want to see an end to people smoking on site and we’re asking for everyone’s support to make our hospitals smoke free.”

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