DOCTORS ARE appealing to patients across Oldham to stub out their cigarettes when visiting their local surgery.
The move comes after a complaint was made to Oldham East and Sadleworth MP Debbie Abrahams by a six-time cancer patient Nicola Jeffery-Sykes of Uppermill.
Nicola said: “I have brittle asthma and going through a barrage of blue smoke every time I attend a local hospital or GP surgery is not good for my health.
“All trusts and surgeries need to think about when patients are attending appointments how difficult it is to approach entrances when people are smoking in the grounds.”
Dr Ian Milnes, who is Lead GP at Saddleworth Medical Practice, Governing Body member and Quality Lead at NHS Oldham Clinical Commissioning Group, said: “We’ve done a lot of work to provide stop smoking support and we absolutely try and prevent smoking in our grounds.
“But the key issue for us is, legally, we cannot enforce a ban on site outside of the practice building, either here in Uppermill or in fact anywhere in Oldham.
“Unfortunately we are not in a position to create and enforce local bylaws but we would obviously firmly encourage patients and their carers to refrain from smoking in the vicinity of any NHS building to protect themselves and others from the effects of direct and passive smoking.”
Smoking related deaths are higher in Oldham than the national average, with 389 people dying from smoking related disease every year in the borough, compared to the national figure of 288.
Debbie Abrahams, MP for Oldham East and Saddleworth, a former public health consultant and Chair of NW ASH, said: “When Nicola came to see me, I fully understood why she was so passionate about tackling smoking outside her GP’s surgery.
“Smokers may not realise it but the chemicals they are exhaling can be extremely damaging to people with conditions like brittle asthma and can cause immediate, life-threatening harm.
“I wrote to Oldham CCG on Nicola’s behalf about action to stop smoking immediately outside GP practices, health centres and local hospitals including Royal Oldham, and I’m delighted that they have agreed to support Nicola’s campaign.”
Oldham’s Stop Smoking Service offers free support tailored to your needs. Contact the team on 0800 288 9008. You can also call the NHS Stop Smoking Helpline on 0800 169 0169 or visit their website: www.nhs.uk/smokefree
Your local pharmacy can also offer you advice and assistance on quitting smoking.