Family raises concern over new smoking ban for patients at Northampton mental health hospital

A concerned woman, who tends to her brother in a Northampton mental health hospital, is appealing for the institution to revise their policy on a smoking ban for patients.

Saturday, 19th November 2016, 6:00 am
Updated Monday, 21st November 2016, 1:28 pm
St Andrews Hospital, Billing Road, Northampton
St Andrews Hospital, Billing Road, Northampton

Simone Downey says she believes “it will affect the patient’s quality of life and remove one of the few choices they are able to make.”

Ms Downey, whose brother is being looked after at St Andrew’s Hospital, believes that the smoking ban they are set to introduce from Sunday, January 1 could “make the staffs life extremely difficult as many of the patients are likely to become violent”.

She said: “Of the 40 percent of patients that can leave the site if they smoke, they will have nicotine patches. If they have patches, leave the site and smoke, say, 20 cigarettes I have been advised that this will affect their antipsychotic medication and its efficiency.

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“It seems really draconian. The Priory Group haven’t done this and don’t intend to. For many people, St Andrew’s is their home. They already have few choices and are denied a voice. People who are already vulnerable and disenfranchised are being forced to accept changes they do not want.”

A spokeswoman for St Andrew’s Hospital said: “As part of St Andrew’s strategy to provide world-class holistic care for our patients we are introducing a stop smoking initiative for a number of reasons but mainly because it directly supports this strategy. This is in line with guidelines issued by NICE which advise all healthcare facilities should be smoke-free. However, we are also working towards a target set by the NHS to improve the smoking status of our patients.

“We believe that hospitals like St Andrew’s should be places that help patients get better, not cause harm. We are not alone and other mental health facilities and NHS Trusts have also recognised that patients would benefit from not smoking. We will, of course, do all that we can to support our patients to stop smoking whilst they receive care here at St Andrew’s.

“Our patients, their families, carers and our staff were informed of the forthcoming initiative in March of this year and the three other St Andrew’s sites in England have already become smoke-free. We have been in contact with the families of very few patients who are unhappy and our discussions with them are ongoing.