|Contact||Ven Chengun, Hume Ward Manager, South West London and St George’s Mental Health NHS Trust|
|Telephone||020 3513 5000|
|Address||Springfield University Hospital, 61 Glenburnie Rd, London, SW17 7DJ|
Smoking has been an accepted part of Mental Health units for many years, some studies suggesting up to 74% of inpatients smoke. The smoking regulations mean that smoke free environments in hospital are key elements not least because of legislation.
Hume Ward in Springfield University Hospital, part of South West London and St George’s Mental Health NHS Trust, adopted its smoke-free policy in 2006 in response to growing concerns over the effects of second-hand smoke. Now the ward is completely free from smoking, which is only allowed in an outdoor courtyard at certain times of the day.
Springfield University Hospital was the first mental health unit in the UK to be presented with the National Clean Air Award for its no smoking policy.
The success of the policy on Hume Ward is down to the involvement of service users in discussion and consultation. Service users don’t see the policy as imposed on them by staff, but as a positive change that improves the environment for all who spend time on the ward. Many service users are not only feeling much better physically but are becoming interested in other aspects of their physical health, such as diet and exercise, as well.
Smoking rates are at least twice as high among mental health patients compared to the general population, but according to UK surveys around 50 per cent of smokers with mental health problems want to quit. Evidence shows that smoking cessation treatments are just as effective for people with mental health problems as for those without, and that quitting does not exacerbate psychiatric symptoms but can actually lead to lowered anxiety levels.
The ‘Smoke Free Minds’ programme running within South West London and St George’s Mental Health NHS Trust is aimed specifically at helping mental health service users give up smoking. To date, more than 200 staff have been trained to deliver smoking cessation interventions, and more than 50 have trained to become NHS Stop Smoking Advisors.