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Hospital smoking bans are being ignored

The Psychiatric Nurses association at Kerry General Hospital say the HSE just wanted to make a ‘grand gesture’ but aren’t willing to back it up.

Image: No Smoking via Shutterstock

“THE KERRY GENERAL hospital campus is far from smoke free”, according to the Psychiatric Nurses Association (PNA) at the hospital.

The campus of Kerry General Hospital in Tralee was supposed to ban smoking on 6 January 2014, along with three other hospitals.

However branch organiser of the PNA, Cormac Williams says that “the HSE is blatantly in breach of its own stated policy in relation to smoking on KGH campus”.

He told TheJournal.ie that:

If the HSE weren’t prepared to implement it, they shouldn’t have introduced it. They’re happy to make an announcement and leave it at that but won’t invest to make sure it’s implemented.

Psychiatric Unit

Williams explained that people are suppose to be “individually assessed” and that “exemptions” can be made for people when patches would not be suitable in cases where it may agitate someone too much.

However, he said that while signs have gone up at the main entrance at the hospital, there have been no changes at all to the psychiatric unit:

For some reason, this declaration was not applied to the mental health unit in KGH, which therefore calls into question the validity of the smoke free status of KGH and its campus.
He added that “while smoking is supposed to be restricted to an outside smoking area of the Psychiatric Unit, this rule is regularly ignored by inpatients especially at night time when the outside smoking area isn’t accessible”.
The HSE responded by saying:
Although Kerry General Hospital has become a no smoking campus, provisions have been made to ensure that individual service users within the Kerry Mental Health Services on the basis of an individual exemption form being completed, may be permitted to smoke in the designated area.

Rule Breakers

Kerry General Hospital is not alone in this regard. Cork University Hospital officially became smoke free in May 2010, but some people continue to smoke outside the main entrance.

An investigation by TheJournal.ie found the same to be true for Beaumont Hospital. A recorded message is played through loudspeakers at the entrance where people are smoking reminding them that smoking is banned on the campus.

Smoke free future?

Under the HSE’s Tobacco Free Campus Policy smoking will be prohibited within all HSE campuses by the end of this year.

The HSE states that “moving towards a tobacco free society will reduce the number of premature deaths from tobacco and result in healthier, longer and better quality lives for many Irish people”.

Williams argues that the HSE is ignoring their own protocalls saying that “the HSE cannot continue to expect staff to work in an area where they are exposed to second hand smoke and expect staff to put up with this situation”. He added that:
Long term exposure to second hand smoke endangers the health of staff who have to work in such an poor environment”
The HSE say they want all 51 hospitals to be smoke free by the end of this year.

Read: HSE says hospitals will be smoke-free by 2015>

More: Hospital’s no-smoking policy flouted by both patients and visitors>

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