Staff at Craigavon Hospital have voiced alarm at management requests they police the No Smoking ban which came into force on Wednesday.
Some workers said they felt they could be subjected to violence if they asked certain members of the public to stub out cigarettes.
On Wednesday, all Health and Social Care (HSC) sites across the province went smoke free. However, staff said they had been asked to police colleagues, patients and the public in a bid to stop people smoking on the grounds.
Some staff said they were particularly concerned asking patients at the Bluestone Unit to stop, given they have no alternative places to go if they are detained patients. Staff said they had been informed that if they wished to smoke they must go to the main roundabout at the busy entrance to the hospital - and, if they were seen smoking in uniform, they would be disciplined.
One member of staff said, “I don’t think it’s fair, particularly for the patients in the Bluestone Unit. It’s also particularly unfair for older people who have been smoking all their lives.
“As for telling members of the public not to smoke - I want to keep my teeth.”
Mary Black, assistant director of Health and Social Wellbeing Improvement at the Public Health Agency (PHA), said, “One in every two people who smoke will die from their habit, and stopping smoking is the single most important thing you can do to improve your health. The health service exists to improve people’s health and wellbeing, so it makes perfect sense that the sites on which healthcare is delivered are smoke free.
“The aim of going smoke free is to provide a healthier environment for everyone who uses health and social care premises, whether they are giving care or receiving it. This will contribute to tackling the harmful effects of smoking on people’s health.”