"Let down by non-enforcement of no smoking policy"

About: Queen's Medical Centre / Ophthalmology

(as the patient),

On January 2, 2008, I attended the ophthalmology clinic at Queens Medical Centre for a series of urgent macular tests. Apart from a very crowded and not very comfortable waiting room, and a slightly longer waiting time than I expected, I have no complaints about the clinic itself. The doctors, nurses, and technicians were courteous, respectful, warm and extremely competent and informative, and I came away feeling that I'd had excellent care and attention. The problem came when I went to the main entrance to wait for the person picking me up. I sat down on a bench, in full view of the many "NO SMOKING" signs, and within less than 30 seconds was joined by three people who lit up cigarettes. When I pointed out that we were in a clearly marked "PATIENT AREA / NO SMOKING" zone, I was met with rude, sarcastic, and hostile replies from all three. As it was three against one, I decided to talk to the Security staff inside. They told me that their "hands were tied" because "the Trust" hasn't given them any authority whatsoever to enforce the No Smoking policy. I don't know if this is true, but if it is, I am appalled. What's the point of having the policy if it's not enforced? I had the identical experience 2 1/2 years ago, in October 2005, and wrote to the Chief Executive and the Evening Post , which published my letter. I received letters from David Edwards and Mike Dinsmore, assuring me that my concerns were being taken "very seriously". Shortly thereafter, in January 2006, a big fuss was made, with lots of publicity, about QMC going "completely non-smoking", with assurances that the policy would be rigorously enforced. Yet it seems NOTHING HAS CHANGED!! And how can a HOSPITAL, which is meant to safeguard the health of its patients, justify allowing this sort of flagrant flaunting of a policy meant to protect patients and the public from the proven dangers of passive smoking?
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