"Excluded by the smoking ban"

About: Leeds and York Partnership NHS Foundation Trust / Inpatient mental health care

(as the patient),

I haven't experienced healthcare recently but I have been detained in psychiatric hospitals in the past.

It's not possible for me to access health care now because of the smoking bans, if I am locked up I will be forced to abruptly withdraw from the habit that keeps me stable.

This apparently is to protect non-smokers from imaginary hazards of second hand smoke (which is not proved more dangerous than mobile phones in spite of the hype). Of course, it's too much trouble to detain people in segregated or ventilated accommodation that doesn't force unwanted, non-consensual treatment.

So thanks for nothing government, Department of Health, NHS and pharmaceutical company fronts/cessation industry, it's a pleasure not being near intolerant control freaks.

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Responses

Response from Leeds PCT

Thank you for taking the time to share your views on Patient Opinion.

I am sorry to hear that you feel unable to access some health services due to the smoking ban. I shall make sure that your feedback is passed to the Leeds Partnership NHS Foundation Trust.

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Response from Alastair Sutherland, intranet and e-communications officer, Leeds and York Partnership NHS Foundation Trust

As my colleague at NHS Leeds said, thank you for sharing your views with us. Please let me start by emphatically saying that excluding people (or making people feel excluded) from our services is completely against everything that the Partnerships Foundation Trust stands for. However, I fully accept that that's how you feel at present and I do appreciate you raising your feelings in a way which lets us respond to you openly and directly. I'm very glad you haven't needed to access services for a while and long may it remain so. In the meantime I hope that I can reassure you somewhat as to the current situation in Leeds mental health inpatient services. Yes, the smoking ban required us to make changes to the way we accommodate service users who smoke and some of these changes have not been easy, both for our service users and our staff. Nevertheless, nobody who uses LPFT services is forced to suddenly stop smoking (or stop smoking at all). All our main inpatient and community sites have outdoor smoking areas with shelters, and most service users can take advantage of these whenever they wish. In the case of service users who need staff to accompany them, smoking breaks are arranged wherever possible about once every hour. Most of our smoking areas are not designated for 'patients' or 'staff' but are instead shared because as I said, exclusion of any kind is something we want to challenge. Although the NHS stance on smoking is fairly rigid, as a Trust providing mental health services we are not blind to the fact that an inpatient stay can sometimes be a difficult and distressing time. The last thing we would want to do is make this worse this by forcing another sudden change in someone's regular habits. Service users who wish to investigate giving up smoking can be given information, support and help by our Pharmacy and Healthy Living Teams but I can assure you they only approach people after their advice is requested. However, all that being said, our main commitment at LPFT is to provide care which is not only effective, but safe. Patient safety underpins everything we do. Even though we respect people's right to smoke it would simply not be possible to ensure the collective safety of our service users if people were to be smoking, or be freely in possession of matches or lighters on the wards. Unfortunately I'm not qualified to debate the effects of second-hand smoke, but I'm quite happy to admit that the safety of our patients and service users overrides all other considerations. Moving the smoking areas outside has undoubtedly helped us to reduce risks. We really do appreciate you speaking to us about our services. As a Foundation Trust we are always looking for people to become members so they can learn more about what we do, and become more involved with the direction the Trust is taking going forward. We also regularly run focus groups of service users to get feedback on our services to help us to improve them. If you would like any further information on either of these options then please contact me, Alastair Sutherland, Patient Advice & Liaison Service Team Leader, on 0800 0525 790, or by email. I do hope this has gone some way to reassuring you that we are sensitive to any and all factors when people come into contact with our services, and that we do not have a blanket 'no smoking' approach. I also hope that I've stressed that the safety of our patients is of paramount importance to us. But to finish by returning to your post, most of all I hope that you may now feel less excluded from our services, should you ever require them in the future. Thank you again for your post, and please do not hesitate to get in touch with us on the above number should you wish to discuss any of these things further.
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Update posted by Kate B (the patient)

Thanks very much for the replies. I feel a bit guilty now for being so angry in my original post but I had just been reading a report from some tobacco control people who were saying it's important to ban smoking for psychiatric patients ... to help us, ha.

It's good to know that my local hospitals won't be prohibiting smoking everywhere, some don't allow smoking in their grounds.

I think the smoke bans have been seriously over hyped for benefits and under estimated for harm caused. Suicide rates stopped falling and started rising when bans came in and social inequalities apparently are worse than ever. I know quite a few people who, like me, consider themselves excluded from many social facilities.

If I manage to get myself organised I'll send you an email Mr Sutherland.

Thanks again.

Kate