Raigmore Hospital's no smoking ban ignored

Image caption, NHS Highland banned smoking at all its sites two years ago

Patients and visitors are ignoring no smoking rules at the biggest hospital in the Highlands.

Concerns have been raised by Raigmore Hospital management about policing the ban at the site in Inverness.

NHS Highland banned smoking at all its sites in 2008, but said implementing the restriction was challenging.

The health board said allowances were made in some circumstances, such as relatives who were distressed about a loved one.

Chief operating officer Elaine Mead said there were discussions about the sensitivity of the ban in some cases, but she added that "the spirit of the policy" was not being adhered to.

She said: "We will be providing advice to staff about directing patients appropriately and plan to continue to challenge individuals smoking on site, out with the exceptional circumstances.

"We will also be able to provide smoking cessation advice and guidance.

"Patients and staff tell us repeatedly that they no longer wish to have to walk through a smoky atmosphere to enter the hospital, or accept cigarette ends at our doorways.

"They also find it disturbing to see patients in night wear smoking at entrances to the hospital."

Ms Mead said as a health provider NHS Highland believed it was important to set an example.

Earlier this week, a decision on whether to ban smoking from all of NHS Grampian's premises by 2012 was delayed amid concerns over enforcing the measures.

The board deferred the decision for six months after agreeing more discussion was needed with staff, patients, the public and other health authorities.

Proposals included disciplinary procedures for staff and the possible withdrawal of care from patients.

But some members expressed reservations that a total ban was unenforceable.

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