Smoking ban flouted on hospital grounds

Library filer dated 14/02/2006 of a smoker stubbing out a cigarette. The vote by MPs to outlaw smoking in pubs, clubs and restaurants in England received a mixed reaction today. Last night's decision was feted as the biggest life-saver for half a century by health campaigners and anti-smoking groups. But the Government faced accusations of presiding over a "shambles" as Prime Minister Tony Blair and Health Secretary Patricia Hewitt effectively voted against their own policy. See PA Story POLITICS Smoking. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Photo credit should read: Owen Humphreys/PA

Library filer dated 14/02/2006 of a smoker stubbing out a cigarette. The vote by MPs to outlaw smoking in pubs, clubs and restaurants in England received a mixed reaction today. Last night's decision was feted as the biggest life-saver for half a century by health campaigners and anti-smoking groups. But the Government faced accusations of presiding over a "shambles" as Prime Minister Tony Blair and Health Secretary Patricia Hewitt effectively voted against their own policy. See PA Story POLITICS Smoking. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Photo credit should read: Owen Humphreys/PA

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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.

However, some staff voiced concern that they were expected to act as whistleblowers on colleagues and patients who were flouting the ban.

One man who contacted the ‘MAIL’ said nothing appears to have changed and people are still smoking on the grounds. “It’s a joke,” he said.

And 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 introduced last month no staff, patients, contractors or visitors can smoke on any Health and Social Care site in Northern Ireland. Lawyers for the woman claimed there was a failure to carry out proper consultation on the ban.

They also say the ban discriminates against a patient who is currently unable to leave. The woman, who has been granted anonymity in the case, is being detained for up to six months at a hospital in the South Eastern Trust.

Her application for a judicial review aimed at securing an exemption for those in her position.

In court on Thursday it was confirmed that a resolution had been reached. The Trust agreed to review its decision to implement the smoke-free policy in its acute mental health inpatient wards and environments. Counsel for the trust confirmed they would examine the process.

Outside court, her solicitor insisted the legal action was not about smoker’s rights.

He said: “It was about the conditions and restrictions which can lawfully be placed on the most vulnerable in our society, if their health means they have to be detained in a mental health ward.”

A spokesperson for the 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.”