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Senior doctors take issue with plans for smoking shelters at city hospitals
OXFORDSHIRE’S top doctors have hit out at plans to build smoking shelters at city hospitals.
The five shelters would “appease” smokers and damage NHS bids to get people to kick the habit, they said.
An Oxford City Council planning officer urged councillors to back the plan on Wednesday, saying health issues could not be considered.
But county director of public health Dr Jonathan McWilliam, pictured, and the GP-led Oxfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group, which makes NHS funding decisions, have objected.
They said: “The NHS will be seen as condoning smoking and appeasing smokers rather than putting all efforts into helping people to give up.
“The public expect to see health promoting leadership from the NHS, not action to make it more convenient to smoke on NHS land.”
They said it is an “issue of principle that the NHS should be smoke free” and shelters “will weaken” moves to stamp out cigarettes.
Smoking was banned in hospital grounds in 2007 but managers said this has not been “practical or enforceable”.
Yet staff will continue to be banned from smoking anywhere on the sites if shelters are built.
Four residents supported the move, saying it will stop smokers from gathering near entrances and littering gardens.
A Sandfield Road resident said the ban “focuses smokers at main entrances” and streets.
Shelters could “give the hospital a focus for their no smoking initiatives”.
Council planning officer Lisa Green said: “While officers could not agree more with the comments made regarding the health implications associated with smoking, these are not a material planning consideration that allows for the applications to be refused.
“It is clear to officers that whilst the sites are supposed to be smoke-free this is not the case and people continue to smoke regardless.”
The east area planning committee will be asked to make a decision when it meets at Oxford Town Hall, St Aldate’s, at 6pm on Wednesday. The public can attend.
For help from the NHS to stop smoking call 0845 40 80 300 or 01865 787165.
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