IT is a worrying habit hospital bosses are hoping to stub out.
Elderly patients and visitors are mistaking a smoking shelter for a bus stop at the Edinburgh Royal Infirmary after the terminus moved.
Bizarre queues have been forming at the designated smoking spot opposite the new main entrance to the city’s flagship hospital with people waiting to catch a bus.
The confusion began when the bus stop was moved in April to allow work for the new Sick Kids Hospital and Department of Clinical Neurosciences to get under way.
Smokers say they are regularly redirecting pensioners away from the shelter while a member of staff has been charged with offering directions among other duties.
One employee, who did not want to be named, said strange queues appearing at the smoking area was almost a “daily occurrence”.
She said: “I’ve been out having a cigarette several times when someone’s come and stood at the shelter. At first I thought they were going to have a cigarette before realising they were waiting for the bus.
“I’ve pointed them to the bus stops and I know some of my colleagues have had to do it too. It tends to be older people that are getting a bit confused.”
Signs directing people to the new bus shelters were put up before the move and extra staff were deployed to direct staff and visitors.
But a union source said it had not stopped people gathering at the blue-framed shelter expecting a ride home.
“The patients see people standing there and presume it’s a bus stop,” she said.
“The staff have been brilliant and signpost them where they have to go but it’s not ideal. It should be moved.”
George Curley, director of operations for facilities at NHS Lothian, said posters and banners had been displayed around the hospital and new signage erected.
He added: “We are unaware of people mistaking the smoking shelter for a bus stop but we will look into this in case it is something which is occurring.”