HOSPITAL chiefs are to earmark non-smoking areas by daubing large swathes of ground with bright paint.
A trial of a visibly clear no-smoking zone outside the Royal Victoria Building at the Western General Hospital has proved a success and is now set to be rolled out to other areas in future.
The move comes after the Evening News twice highlighted the problem of smoking outside entrances to the Edinburgh Royal Infirmary, which has been informally tolerated despite the practice being contrary to NHS Lothian’s own official policy.
An investigation found that dozens of patients and staff members light up in non-smoking areas every hour, leaving cancer-causing smoke to drift back in to hospital buildings.
Health campaigners today backed the idea of rolling the non-smoking chevrons initiative out across NHS Lothian sites.
ASH Scotland chief executive Sheila Duffy said: “It is encouraging to hear that chevron markings on the ground have helped to tackle instances of people smoking at the entrance to the Royal Victoria Building at the Western General Hospital in Edinburgh.
“It’s also very welcome news that management at Edinburgh Royal Infirmary are taking action and are ready to introduce chevrons at their site to counteract the examples highlighted in recent days of people smoking around the entrance to the building.”
The markings were introduced at the £43 million Royal Victoria Building when despite clear signs, smokers still regularly congregated near to the main entrance.
Dr Conor Maguire, the health board’s clinical director of medicine of the elderly, devised the innovative idea of painting the pavement outside the facility to help deter smokers.
Dr Maguire said: “Cigarette smoke was being sucked into the building where smokers would congregate. This created an unpleasant environment for patients and NHS Lothian employees.
“People were continually being asked to move to a smoking shelter for the sake of other users of the site.
“I suggested a more visible deterrent such as painting green hashed markings across the pavement which would be hard to miss.
“The early indications are that the markings have been effective and smokers appear in the main to be staying out of the area.”
The success of the scheme is to be considered as part of an NHS Lothian action plan to tackle smoking on hospital sites.
The Scottish Government has previously vowed to make all hospital grounds across the country completely smoke-free by 2015.
In another pro-active move, NHS Lothian bosses last week announced that recorded messages to deter smoking were to be played outside the Edinburgh Royal Infirmary’s main entrance.
Jim Sherval, NHS Lothian’s deputy director of public health and health policy, said: “We have designated smoking shelters in the hospital grounds and encourage patients and visitors who do smoke to take into account other users of our hospitals and make use of the shelters provided.
“If you are smoking outwith the shelters and are asked to move by our staff or a member of the public – we would very much appreciate your co-operation with this polite request.”