‘No smoking in your uniforms’ nurses told by Royal Free Hospital

The Royal Free has adopted a zero-tolerance policy on those caught smoking on its site

The Royal Free has adopted a zero-tolerance policy on those caught smoking on its site - Credit: Archant

Patients and staff caught smoking in the gardens, entrances or car parks of the Royal Free Hospital will find themselves on the wrong side of a new zero tolerance crackdown against smokers.

In a bid to make the hospital grounds an entirely tobacco-free zone, those found smoking on any part of the hospital’s site in Pond Street, Hampstead, will be given verbal warnings and could face being escorted off the premises by security staff.

Staff will also be given the “school playground” treatment as plans are in the pipeline to ban them from smoking in their uniforms or with their hospital ID badges showing.

The tougher enforcement of the hospital’s smoking ban, which has been in effect since 2007, was announced on national No Smoking Day last Wednesday.

It is hoped the ban will encourage people to give up smoking and to reduce harmful second-hand smoke.

Dominic Dodd, chairman of the Royal Free London NHS Foundation Trust, said: “Smoking is the greatest factor in causing preventable illness and early death both in London and nationwide, and contributes to the high death rates from both cancer and cardiovascular disease.

“The Royal Free can lead by example by providing a smoke-free environment across our hospital site, reducing the potential for harmful second-hand smoke, and creating a supportive environment for those who want to stop.”

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Patients and staff who smoke will be encouraged to accept a referral to the hospital’s in-house “stop smoking” service.

Camden Council says smoking is the “biggest cause of avoidable deaths in the borough” and on average, there are 227 smoking-related deaths each year.

But the hospital’s measures are a step too far for pro-smoking campaign group Forest.

Simon Clark, the group’s director, said: “Hospitals are meant to be caring places but what the Royal Free is doing is totally unnecessary, heavy-handed, and will cost resources and money to enforce.

“It’s one thing to ban smoking inside the hospital, which we understand, but it’s another to stop people smoking outside in the open air.”

The Whittington Hospital in Archway also forbids smoking on hospital grounds.

n The hospital is encouraging all those with comments or suggestions about the policy to email rfh.smokefree@nhs.net.