PATIENTS, visitors and NHS staff across Swindon and Wiltshire will be making a fresh and healthy start to 2019 following the introduction of new policies to make all sites smoke free from January 1.

The move to smoke free status will see a total ban on smoking anywhere on NHS sites, including grounds, gardens and in vehicles in car parks.

It applies to the Great Western Hospital in Swindon, community hospitals and primary care centres in Marlborough, Chippenham, Devizes and Malmesbury, Melksham, Warminster and Trowbridge and the Royal United Hospital, Bath.

The decision to become completely smoke free is in line with the Health Act (2006) and The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE 2013) guidelines which state that all hospital sites, including mental health hospitals, and sites where NHS services are provided, should be 100% smoke free.

Smoking is a significant public health issue in England and a leading cause of preventable ill health, premature death and disability. Smoking caused over 484,000 hospital admissions in England during 2017.

For patients, stopping smoking before or during a hospital visit can also speed up recovery and reduce the risk of complications.

Cherry Jones, Director of Public Health at Swindon Council said: “The fact that all NHS sites across B&NES, Swindon and Wiltshire will be smoke free from January 1 is fantastic news and a great way to begin 2019.

We’re starting the new year by taking some real steps to help people comply with our policy, so we’ve taken down smoking shelters and are supporting those who are looking to give up smoking and switch from tobacco by allowing vaping and the use of e-cigarettes in outdoor areas on Trust properties.”

Cara Charles-Barks, Chief Executive of Salisbury NHS Foundation Trust, said:

"As a health organisation we’re very clear that this is the right thing to do and we’re proud to be going smoke free. Breathing someone else’s smoke increases your risks of heart disease, cancer and respiratory problems. Clean air is better for everyone”.

NHS providers across the region have been offering support to staff and patients to either stop smoking or to manage their nicotine dependency while at work or during their stay in hospital through a range of initiatives including the provision of nicotine patches and vaping devices.

Dr Bernie Marden, Medical Director of the Royal United Hospitals Bath NHS Foundation Trust said:

“Clean air is better for everyone, so we’re clear that as a health organisation that going smoke free is the right thing for us to do. Quitting smoking is a personal choice and we’re encouraging everyone to make sure they’re ready for not smoking on Trust grounds.

There’s lots of help available for those that need it. Patients can talk to our dedicated Healthy Choices team, and Occupational Health are providing free and confidential support for staff who are cutting down or quitting.”