Smokers who nip out for a sly puff in the grounds of NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde acute hospitals are now likely to meet the smoking cessation enforcers.
A dedicated smoke busting squad of eight full-time staff have been employed to approach anyone smoking on NHS premises and ask them to stub out their cigarettes.
This is an expansion of a scheme, initially introduced in March this year at Glasgow Royal Infirmary by facilities contractors ACPOA, which is now being rolled out to all NHS GGC acute hospitals.
The teams will also offer smoking cessation literature with advice and contact numbers of quit schemes, and a small black wallet into which the cigarette is placed, lit end first.
Glasgow Royal Infirmary Manager Rosie Cherry, who was involved in setting up the scheme, said:
“We appreciate asking people to put out their cigarettes can be difficult, and indeed our staff have reported to us there have been times when they have felt awkward asking people to extinguish their cigarettes.
“This is why we have brought on board this team who have received special training in handling difficult situations.
“The team have gone through our conflict management training programme and carry smoking cessation materials.
“They work in pairs, and politely ask people to extinguish their cigarettes.
“Our staff are very good about leaving hospital grounds if they want to smoke, the agents are really deployed to emphasise our policy to patients and visitors.”
Hospital staff and members of the public have complained about having to walk past smokers standing in doorways, and cigarette ends littering the grounds.
Ms Cherry added that the initiative is being warmly welcomed: “Public response to the team has been very good and everyone they have spoken to has been very co-operative.
“The team have been enhanced disclosure checked, and are easily identifiable by their green, high visibility jackets, and their role also includes sweeping up and keeping hospital grounds, carparks and pathways tidy.
William Birse, ACPOA’s contract manager at the GRI, said:
“It’s one thing to ask a member of the public to stop smoking in a pub, but it’s quite something else when you consider that many people who are smoking outside a hospital are under a lot of stress or worse. They could be visiting a loved one who is seriously ill, or they could be very unwell themselves.
“For that reason, we have to be ultra sensitive when making such request.
“Having said that, the vast majority of people are happy to co-operate when it is explained to them in a sensitive way, that by smoking near the hospital entrance in particular, they are making that place unpleasant for others.
“A very good example of how smokers may not realise exactly what they are doing, has been provided at the Royal Hospital for Sick Children, where our Customer Service Agents find people smoking right outside, and next to, the air filtration units which serve the cancer ward.
“My colleagues south of the border report experiences very similar to our own here in Glasgow. The general consensus is what you would expect, namely that if you treat people with sensitivity and respect, then by and large you get the same in return.
“It is particularly gratifying for us here at the GRI, to see how this service which we were slightly nervous about in the beginning, has been so effective and so successful that it has been rolled out across Glasgow and the Clyde.”
For more information contact NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde Communications on 0141 201 4429.