NHS staff told - no smoking on duty

HEALTH workers will be allowed to smoke in their uniforms if they are off-duty, after health officials clarified a strict anti-smoking policy.The Suffolk East Primary Care Trusts hit the headlines over their proposals to ban smoking on all of its premises and by all staff, whether they were on a PCT site or not.

HEALTH workers will be allowed to smoke in their uniforms if they are off-duty, after health officials clarified a strict anti-smoking policy.

The Suffolk East Primary Care Trusts hit the headlines over their proposals to ban smoking on all of its premises and by all staff, whether they were on a PCT site or not.

The policy stated: “Staff must not smoke when off-site in a public place if they are in uniform or wearing a visible ID badge, or it is otherwise apparent that they are an employee of the Suffolk East PCTs.”

It also said: “Employees will not smoke when working at or visiting other premises on business, even though smoking may be permitted there according to local policy or practice.”


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Union officials had attacked the policy for being too stringent however, Brian Keeble, acting chief executive and director of public health for the PCTs, said: “The policy is in line with the government's drive to ban smoking in public places.

“We are trying to make sure that the environment is clear of smoke but the policy is also about the NHS being an ambassador for good health.

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“In a sense, it's about the NHS saying very clearly 'this is something you should not be doing'.”

Mr Keeble also said that there was a Unison representative on the steering group which came up with the policy, as well as a range of smokers, non-smokers and ex-smokers.

Pat Potter, chairman of the Central Suffolk Primary Care Trust, said it was important to look at the “workability” of the proposals and how easy it would be to implement them in practice.

Some members of the board were worried about applying the no-smoking rule too stringently to patients and visitors.

Ann Colvill, a non executive director of Suffolk Coastal PCT, said: “There will be times when we are talking about relatives who have just had a bereavement. This policy has to descend in to the realms of common sense.

“If smoking is a form of support for people in difficult circumstances then there has to be some flexibility.”

Susan Smith, a non executive director of Suffolk Coastal PCT, said: “Nicotine is an addictive substance and, even though some people may actively want to give up, it is not an easy thing to do. There needs to be some tolerance.”

Concerns were also raised about the length of cigarette breaks people would take if they had to walk off-site to smoke.

The PCT resolved to accept the policy but amend the line about smoking off-site so that it would only apply when staff were on duty.

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