A health trust is making its final push to go smoke-free by signing up to a national pledge.
To mark No Smoking Day last week, Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust signed the NHS Smokefree Pledge.
From the end of March, the trust is going to be completely smoke-free, meaning that smoking will not be permitted in any of its hospitals, community sites or grounds across North Tyneside and Northumberland.
Northumbria Healthcare, the first acute trust in the north east to go truly smoke-free, will also help staff and patients to quit smoking.
The pledge was signed by the trust’s chairman Alan Richardson, chief executive Jim Mackey and executive medical director Jeremy Rushmer, together with Judith Stonebridge, smoke-free lead and public health consultant.
Mr Mackey said: “Our journey towards our smoke-free future began a long time ago and for the last 12 months we have been working hard to ensure that everything is in place for the end of March.
“We’re delighted to be a pioneering trust in this respect and sign the NHS Smokefree Pledge to further demonstrate our commitment to providing a safe environment for our staff and patients that promotes health and reduces harm from exposure to second-hand smoke.”
The pledge, which has been developed by the Smokefree Action Coalition, is endorsed by public health minister Steve Brine MP, NHS England chief executive Simon Stevens, and a host of other health leaders.
Smoking is the leading cause of premature death and disease, and kills 79,000 people every year.
Simon Stevens, chief executive of NHS England, said: “Most smokers want to quit and we’re seeing good progress on lower smoking rates. To build on this we’d now like to see NHS organisations across the country sign up to the NHS Smokefree Pledge.”
Duncan Selbie, chief executive of Public Health England, said: “The NHS admits a patient every minute because of a smoking-related disease and one in four beds are occupied by a smoker. Given that most smokers want to quit, this is an unparalleled opportunity for NHS staff to do all possible to help them quit.
“NHS England has committed hospitals and mental health services to become truly smoke-free by 2019 and I am delighted that the Smokefree Action Coalition has made it possible for each of them to publicly pledge their commitment to this.”