Health chiefs in Fife asked to consider loudspeakers to drive smokers away

Health chiefs in Fife have been urged to consider the use of public messages to drive smokers away from hospital entrances.

Midwives at Kirkcaldy’s Victoria Hospital have asked for loudspeakers to be installed at the entrance to the maternity ward amid concerns about fumes wafting through windows and into wards housing new mums and babie.

The tactic could also be employed at the main hospital entrance where there has been a perennial problem with people flouting NHS Fife’s no-smoking policy.

The move is being considered ahead of controversial new legislation being introduced next year which will make it an offence to smoke within 15 metres of a hospital building, with those who persist with having a fly puff facing on-the-spot fines.

While notices are placed at all healthcare locations in Fife highlighting the health board’s stance on smoking, there are currently no sanctions for those who ignore the warnings – and little information on how the forthcoming new laws are to be enforced.

Dr Margaret Hannah, NHS Fife director of public health, said that the use of speakers had already been explored at Queen Margaret Hospital in Dunfermline with “limited success”, although various options are being examined to drive home the anti-smoking message in Kirkcaldy.

“NHS Fife has a clear smoking policy – no smoking is permitted at any time for staff, patients, visitors, contractors or the public within NHS Fife premises or grounds,” she explaned.

“Extensive signage and notices are displayed on all our sites advising of this policy.

“As part of our smoke-free sites work, ‘A Place to Be Smokefree’ was launched in 2015 and we have undertaken significant promotion to highlight this policy and the support available to help quit.

“This has helped reduce the number of smokers on site and a recent survey has shown that there is increased awareness of NHS Fife’s smoke free policy and positive changes in behaviour.

“We recognise, however, that some people choose to disregard this non-smoking message and this is frustrating.

“We continue to work to change attitudes and explore options to reinforce our smoking policy.”

A spokesperson for NHS Tayside confirmed Dundee’s Ninewells Hospital has had public messages for several years, which are played throughout the day reminding staff and visitors that it is forbidden to smoke on site.