A poll on whether the Royal Bolton Hospital should reinstate smoking shelters has gone in favour of those who voted “yes”.
The result was very close, with 1629 voters in favour, and 1580 against. Voting was open for two weeks from June 3rd and closed on June 17th. People could vote online on the Trust or Bolton News websites, or by completing coupons available within the hard copy of the Bolton News.
Whether or not to have smoking shelters on hospital property is a very controversial issue. The hospital’s whole site smoking ban has proved difficult to enforce and people still smoke — especially near entrances. This resulted in complaints from patients, visitors and staff having to walk through clouds of smoke and it had been suggested that we manage the situation by bringing back some shelters.
But others claimed this would be a backward step and said the hospital should be promoting healthy lifestyles.
The Trust decided to listen to the views of the public and staff and the issues were debated in The Bolton News as well as a poll taken.
Jon Scott, Chief Operating Officer, said: “We knew that this issue would be controversial but the debate has been a good way of airing all the different views. I’d like to thank everyone who has taken part in the debate and voted. I promised that we would abide by the result of the vote and so we will be putting up three shelters in the near future. This doesn’t mean we condone smoking – it means that smokers will be directed away from the entrances so that other people do not have to go through the smoke.”
Stephen Tyldesley, Associate Director of Estates and Facilities said work would start within the week to put up the three shelters and he expected work to be complete within a few weeks. The shelters, which cost around £1200 each, will be between the main entrance to the hospital and A and E, a little way from the Princess Anne Maternity Unit entrance and also there will be one for staff at the back of the main hospital building. Posters about smoking cessation will be put in the shelters. Mr Tyldesley said that meanwhile he would be talking to staff including union representatives about changes needed to the current smoking policy, which bans smoking anywhere on the site.