Powys Patients’ Council response to The Smoke-free Premises and Vehicles (Wales) Regulations 2018 Public Consultation

A consultation was launched in May regarding changes to the Smoke Free premises and Vehicles Regulations that will affect Mental Health wards, including the Felindre Ward in Bronllys. Rhydian and John from the Patients’ Council attended a meeting on the ward with Ward Manager Lisa Hale and Penny Price (new job role) to ensure that they had a voice in the hospital’s response to the consultations. The council also responded themselves by completing the consultation form and we have summed up the main points here.

At the moment, the only option for people on the ward is to smoke indoors in a designated smoking area. These new regulations would end this practice and would force people into refraining from smoking for long periods. Some of the people with lived experience on the ward who smoke also used facilities in England where indoor smoking was banned and they said it was a very difficult time that made recovery more complicated. During a time of great distress it could cause extra stress to have an enforced period of nicotine withdrawal. It’s always possible for other hospital patients to leave their beds and ‘sneak out’ for a cigarette but due to the secure nature of MH wards this will not be possible for Felindre patients. The council was also concerned on the effect on staff time, with the staff having to accompany smokers to an unsecured outdoor smoking area.

One of the main barriers to giving up smoking in a Mental Health Unit is that patients do not have enough activities to help keep them occupied. Patients have said that they have wanted to smoke more because of the boredom as it gives them something to do. We urged that there be increased funding specifically for activities on Mental Health wards. We also want there to be access to a full range of cessation tools on the ward, including vaping/e-cigs, and for staff to be well trained in cessation techniques so that patients can be fully supported.

The consultation closed on 17th August so we will keep you informed as to the outcomes and findings.

Powys Patients Council is facilitated by the Mental Health Team at PAVO and aims to give a voice to people staying on in-patient wards in Powys. For more information, please contact participation officer Owen Griffkin at owengriffkin(at)pavo.org.uk

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