NHS Shetland staff who treat patients in their own homes may in future ask them not to smoke during the visit and ideally not to smoke for at least one hour beforehand.
Announcing the move at a meeting of NHS Shetland board today, health improvement manager Elizabeth Robinson said that staff who visit homes of smokers were at risk from “second-hand smoke”.
Ms Robinson said it would be advisable for the board to compile a list of smoking households and consider writing to ask patients, and anyone who may be with them, to comply to the request not to smoke before and during a visit.
Staff with conditions such as asthma, lung and heart problems or who are pregnant face an increased risk. Ms Robinson said people were generally very good at complying with no-smoking requests – “They accept it” – and were also compliant if asked to move when smoking on hospital grounds.
Smoking in public places has been banned since 2005 and NHS staff are required to set an example by not smoking in uniform or anywhere on board premises. They are also not allowed to smoke in private vehicles used for work if carrying passengers. Staff wishing to quit are offered nicotine replacement therapy.
Meanwhile the number of members of the public attempting to quit smoking is ahead of the NHS target, with 196 people having successful self-reported one-month quit attempts in August. The target was 175.
Smoking has been identified as the biggest single cause of preventable chronic illness, disability and premature death in Scotland, and it has been assessed that if everyone in Shetland stopped smoking there would be 5,000 fewer attendances at general practice for respiratory illness.