BARNSLEY Hospital has gone smoke-free across its entire site in a bid to reduce prevalence across the town following schemes started by the council and schools.

The hospital will support everybody who smokes to stop - including its staff - and create a hospital free from tobacco and smoking, ensuring it promotes health and the prevention of disease by minimising harm from smoking, bosses say to save hundreds of lives in Barnsley every year.

No-one in the hospital will be exposed to second-hand smoke or cigarette litter and all patients, staff and visitors to the hospital will be asked not to smoke on or around the site and new signs will make this very clear.

The smoke-free hospital launch will be supported by a visit to the hospital from Mayor Coun Pauline Markham and there will be new smoke-free posters featuring photos including a lung cancer patient and midwives.

Information displays and new signage will be unveiled, with a focus in the maternity department on stopping smoking in pregnancy.

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Chief executive Dr Richard Jenkins said: “We’re asking for support from the public, our patients and staff in order to go completely smoke-free.

“We know that smoking is the single greatest cause of preventable death, disability and illness, and it is therefore appropriate that we keep the hospital site smoke-free and ask people not to smoke on site.

“One in two smokers die prematurely due to their smoking and while they are in hospital we have support to help them to break their addiction.

“This is about improving people’s health in the same way we are committed to doing across all causes of disease - it is very positive and will save lives.”

All smokers who are admitted as patients will be advised that the site is smoke-free and as part of their hospital care and treatment they will be offered nicotine replacement therapy and referred to local stop smoking services.

Dr Jenkins added: “This is more than just having a smoke-free site for patients and staff. For the first time we will see a cultural shift in the hospital’s role in proactively supporting patients to quit smoking.

“Research shows that up to 25 per cent of patients in our hospitals smoke and they actually expect health professionals to raise the issue with them. Supporting them with nicotine replacement medication means they are much more likely to quit for good.”

Smoking prevalence across Barnsley was at 21.2 per cent early last year, which equated to more than 52,000 smokers in the town or more than one in five people, although latest figures suggest that that percentage has dropped to 18.2 per cent following a council-led initiative.

Dr Andy Snell, Barnsley Hospital’s public health consultant, added: “The hospital is stepping up to do more to reduce the harm from tobacco and the campaign will build on the progress made across the area by the local authority.

“Smoking is such a serious risk factor, causing disease and early death, and it is an addiction not a lifestyle choice. Across the NHS we need to do more to reduce the harm from tobacco, and Barnsley Hospital is doing this by implementing the campaign.”