Friday, 13 August 2010

£20,000 on enforcement officers v. threats to Fife and Tayside services

As already reported in recent posts, Tayside Health Board has brought in enforcement officers to police smoking on the grounds of Ninewells hospital. The project costs £20,000, and they have issued one littering fine so far, which means they have another 399 fines to issue before they break even. People might restrict their illicit smoking activities to the 152 hours per week when no officers are present ...

Meantime public health minister Nicola Sturgeon will be chairing the NHS Fife's annual review meeting in order to face the public over the issue of cuts in A&E services in the area.

The Courier has launched a Burning Issues campaign in order to draw attention to problems in the health service. It covers areas like Evidence of abuse at Perth Royal Infirmary, Superbugs link to cleaning cuts denied, Sick NHS workers cost £260,000 a week – but there is also evidence of a strong level of support from the public: Former patients full of praise for health service staff.

When a couple of smoking enforcement officers are added to this mix they must fade into obscurity. The money spent on these is small but everywhere you look there are more pressing problems. High levels of abuse directed at staff and high levels of sick pay are both significant problems: is policing smoking in the grounds of the hospital likely to help either situation? Isn't abuse of staff vastly more objectionable than smoking in a doorway out of the rain? Is a smoking ban designed to promote a spirit of mutual respect and dignity for everybody concerned

Last word to Planet Politics, in an excellent blog piece which points out that the hospital does not have an indoor smoking problem, and that 'zero tolerance' does not mean that enforcement is effective.

To contribute to Burning Issues on any aspect of NHS performance in Tayside call 01382 575291 or email


Anonymous said...

I assume that the "fine" related to a "Litter Offence ie dropping a cigarette butt and not for smoking in an " enclosed space " as defined in the Smoking,Health and Social Care (Scotland) Act 2005.

If however it was an individual fined for smoking in an enclosed space then surely action should also be taken by the Council involved to fine the " Responsible Person " in charge of the building
for allowing smoking.

The law seems to be applied differently depending on whether the building is a Pub, Club, or Hospital.

Belinda said...


To be fair to the health board, since they have employed enforcement officers they are not actually committing the crime of 'failing to stop smoking'. (They are able to do what most publicans can't afford, namely bring in enforcers at public expense.)

The health board is paying the enforcers to enforce the law and the fine money goes back to council coffers. At the rate of £50 per fine the enforcers would have to fine many many smokers in order to make up the money spent on them so I might suggest to them that, instead, they fine the health boards for failing to stop the smoking (at a rate of £2,500 a throw) ... that way the enforcers would be paid twice and all out of public money.

You know it makes sense ...

(oh, just give them a smoking room and be done with it)