SMOKERS have been urged to stop ‘inappropriately’ smoking on a hospital site where it is banned.

East Lancashire Hospitals Trust (ELHT) operates a blanket ban on e-cigarettes and tobacco at any of its sites, which include Royal Blackburn and Burnley General Teaching Hospitals and Accrington Victoria and Pendle and Clitheroe community hospitals.

But the trust’s chief executive Kevin McGee said he still sees people puffing cigarettes on the Royal Blackburn site despite them being prohibited.

Mr McGee said: “The number have gone down significantly, but still every day I can go round the site and I will see people smoking.

“Clearly that’s inappropriate for a hospital.”

The trust chief made the comments during an interview with East Lancashire’s patients’ champion Russ McLean where he was asked how the trust has reduced smoking.

Mr McLean said: “ELHT is now completely a smoke free zone.

“The number of patients and visitors who contact me to raise concerns about patients and their visitors smoking in doorways and entrances has gone down significantly, how have you achieved that?

Mr McGee said in response that people are challenged in a 'very positive way' and offered support and help to stop smoking.

He said: “This is one of those things where you can never say you’ve cracked it, you’ve got to keep doing things day in day out.

“We are very clear this is a no smoking site.

“Our sites are no smoking and therefore both staff and patients shouldn’t be smoking on site.

“What we now do is challenge in a very positive way anybody that does smoke and offer them support and offer them help.

“What I would say to anyone is to respect that this is a no smoking site.

“At some point, if you are smoking on site, you will get challenged, you will be asked to support us and stop smoking and we just have to continue that day in day out.”

James Maguire, divisional general manager for estates and facilities at the trust, said it is stepping up efforts to stub out smoking on its site,

He said that in the past six months, the trust’s smoke free team has had ‘great success’ in advising and encouraging smokers to help bring an end to smoking on hospital grounds.

He said: “Health and wellbeing is important to all of us in the NHS and we want to remind all patients, visitors and staff that smoking – including eCigarettes - is not permitted at any NHS hospital or community health facility in East Lancashire, including in the hospital grounds.

“All our hospital and community sites are 100 per cent ‘no smoking’, including the Royal Blackburn and Burnley General teaching hospitals, as well as community hospitals at Clitheroe, Pendle and Accrington Victoria.

“Smoking is the single greatest cause of premature death and disease in our communities, responsible for five per cent of all hospital admissions in people over 35. For non-smokers, it is highly unpleasant and totally unacceptable to patients, visitors and staff who have to run-the-gauntlet through smoking patients who gather at entrances.

“East Lancashire Hospitals, like other NHS Trusts around the country, is stepping up efforts to stub out smoking on our sites. In the past six months, our Smoke Free Team has had great success in advising and encouraging smokers to help us bring an end to smoking on hospital grounds.”

“As a caring healthcare organisation, we support people’s efforts to quit. Anyone who needs help to give up smoking should contact the Smoke Free Service on 01254 734 629.”