Health harm at hospital

The first of the Hippocratic oaths is ‘First do no Harm’. It is with these words in mind that I wish to address the situation of smoking within the grounds of Wansbeck Hospital.

I have been to the hospital each day for the last week or so and cannot fault the care given to my 94-year-old father.

It was the final straw in what I see as an abhorrent flouting of hospital rules when I saw no less than nine cigarette remains inside the entrance to the hospital, between the rotating doorway and the next door inside.

The lady at customer service informed me that they must have blown in, that people had dropped them, that the cow that had just flown over the moon had dropped them – this last one is mine and also as stupid as the comments made. Blown in 100 metres from where you are legally allowed to smoke? When I left, these cigarette remains were still there and the customer service desk was closed.

The sign indicating that smoking on the site is not allowed is placed within other signs, with writing half the size of that of the others. There are signs that indicate that smoking is not permitted in the hospital, yet it provides a smoking area within the grounds.

I would defy any member of staff or public to walk from the street to the entrance and not pass within three metres of the remnants of cigarettes.

I see patients sitting outside with ‘drips’ in their body, puffing on cigarettes. As a reasonably educated person I wonder if you might explain the logic in this. I have even seen people rolling cigarettes inside the doorway in readiness to them exiting the building.

I see both the hospital and health department vulnerable to those developing life-threatening ailments claiming that their illness was exacerbated as a result of allowing smoking on the grounds of the hospital.

One method of addressing the situation is to follow that of community policing in Newcastle. There, community police issue £75 fines to those flouting the law.

I despair at the measures that are being taken. If this problem is addressed before the new hospital opens I hope the situation can be addressed and as a result offer better healthcare to Wansbeck Hospital.

Malcolm J Wood

Newbiggin-by-the-Sea