Smoke-free legislation making it illegal to smoke on hospital grounds comes into force in Wales today (1 March).
The landmark law, the first in the UK, means that all hospital grounds, school grounds, public playgrounds and the outdoor areas of day-care and child minding settings in Wales will be required to be smoke-free.
Mental Health and Wellbeing Minister Eluned Morgan said it was a ‘proud day for Wales’ and would ‘benefit the health of future generations’.
The law is being introduced to protect the public’s health, both by aiming to discourage people from starting smoking in the first place and to support those trying to quit.
By introducing smoke-free legislation, it is hoped to protect more people from being exposed to harmful second-hand smoke and reduce the chances of children starting smoking.
Anyone found breaking the law could face a fine of up to £100.
In an effort to enforce the legislation and raise awareness of the smoke-free requirements, an audio-speaker system with a push button pad is being installed at entrances throughout the newly built Grange University Hospital in Cwmbran and the Royal Gwent Hospital in Newport.
The audio speakers will allow anyone who witnesses smoking on site to anonymously press the button, which will play a recorded message to remind people that smoking is not permitted.
Smoke-free enforcement officers employed by the health board will also be patrolling hospital grounds, speaking with any smokers and asking them to stub out their cigarettes.
Signage informing patients, visitors and staff about the new legislation has also been installed.
The new laws will also cover spaces where children and young people spend their time – such as school grounds and public playgrounds, as well as the outdoor areas of children’s day-care and child minding settings. It is hoped that banning smoking in these places will help to denormalise smoking.
Matt Lloyd, one of Aneurin Bevan University Health Board’s Smoke-Free Enforcement Officers, has been speaking with smokers about the upcoming legislation: “The majority of smokers stop smoking when I approach them. I then remind them about our smoke-free environment policy and the new law. If somebody refuses to stop smoking, I talk to them about why we have the policy and the law. If they are a patient, I can contact their ward manager who will offer them nicotine replacement therapy to help with cravings. It is everybody’s responsibility to support the smoke-free policy and up-coming law to make sure we offer our staff, patients and visitors a safe and positive experience when using our NHS services.”
Minister for Mental Health and Wellbeing, Eluned Morgan, said: “We are immensely proud to have brought into force this law today making hospital grounds, school grounds, playgrounds and outdoor care settings for children smoke-free in Wales.
“The law will not only help smokers quit, but it will also discourage others from starting smoking in the first place. We’ve seen the impact of the indoor smoking ban and we hope this will be similarly successful.
“This legislation will benefit the health of future generations in Wales, as fewer children will be exposed to smoking and, we hope, fewer will take it up themselves.
“We need to do everything we can to combat the harmful effects of smoking. There are resources and support services available from Help Me Quit for those looking to give up smoking, and I hope our action will be the catalyst to a healthier, smoke-free Wales for years to come.”
Hospital’s flower power proves big success with patients
A summer of sun and extra flower beds have blossomed into the perfect partnership for patients’ wellbeing at Singleton Hospital.
The recent prolonged sunny spells – the hottest recorded for Wales in 30 years – have provided ideal conditions for hundreds of begonias to bloom.
This year, the health board has invested in additional raised beds around the hospital to increase the positive impact on the wellbeing of patients, staff and visitors.
Betty Foley has worked at Singleton as a volunteer for over 15 years.
Seeing a large number of patients, staff and visitors during each shift, she has heard a lot of positive patient feedback for the flower features.
She said: “I deal with a large number of patients and visitors coming into Singleton and a lot of them have passed comment on how lovely the flowers look around the hospital.
“A lot arrive through the main reception and they’re welcomed by a really colourful bed of flowers, which can give you a bit of a boost when you’re going into hospital for treatment.
“I’ve been told countless times recently by patients that they sit in front of the hospital where the benches are and the flowers take their mind off things.
“Small things like that can really make a big difference to your day.”
Christian Berndsen, gardening maintenance, and his team put the bedding plants in at the end of May.
He said: “We’ve used a lot of different types of begonias as they have a variety of bright colours that really catch the eye.
“The flowers have benefited from a great summer of sun.
“I’ve had a lot of comments while we’re around the hospital, which is nice. The intention was to give anyone who uses the hospital a nice, bright collection of flowers to look at around the site.
“Seeing bright flowers such as the begonias can give you a bit of a lift, so it’s been lovely to hear that patients love them as it shows it’s having a positive effect.”
Singleton has also benefited from a wooden sculpture of an oak dragonfly, which features on the Crush Hall roundabout which is situated between the main entrance and the maternity and child health building.
That has been funded by Biophilic Wales and designed by local sculptor Simon Hedger, and adds to a creative corner in the hospital grounds.
Nick Davies, Estates Officer at Singleton Hospital, added: “The flowers and sculpture certainly improves the appearance of the hospital. As we have a lot of patients, visitors and staff coming to this hospital we firmly believe that first impressions are very important.
“If you’re waiting for an appointment or are visiting family or a friend, it’s nice for people to see and offers a little lift. In addition, it’s a natural habitat for small wildlife such as bees and butterflies.
“Christian and the gardening team have done a great job brightening up areas around the hospital, and we’re really pleased it’s impacted patients in a positive way.”
Lead image: Volunteer Betty Foley, Nick Davies, Estates Officer at Singleton Hospital and Christian Berndsen from gardening maintenance at the Crush Hall roundabout display. (Image: Swansea Bay NHS)
Stained glass window dedicated at Withybush Hospital Chapel
A new stained glass window has been dedicated during a special service at St Luke’s Chapel in Withybush Hospital, Haverfordwest.
The window was funded by Springboard Learning Pembrokeshire, with support from Communities First.
The colourful piece of art was created by parents of St Mary’s School in Pembroke Dock on a course, under the direction of Springboard’s highly accomplished stained glass tutor, Pandora Hughes.
The window was originally created in 2015 and was designed to fit the windows of St Mary’s school hall in Pembroke Dock but lost its home after the school closed in 2018. The Chaplaincy Team at Withybush hospital were pleased to offer a new home to the window.
Laura Philips, Springboard Coordinator said: “It is hoped that others will get as much pleasure from its design and colours as everyone did creating them.
“The window tries to capture all that life has to offer and the importance of our culture and surroundings. It celebrates the sea and coast, the history of the Sunderland Bombers of Pembroke Dock and the town’s bold and strong architecture. The rainbow represents the hope and promise of love and life. The dove of peace is a symbol of tranquillity and the prayer of heavenly wisdom. And all around the edges you will find are images of health, wealth, nature, music, and literature. The rose stands for the importance of life to all the parents who worked on this window.”
Hywel Dda University Health Board’s chaplains Revd Geoffrey Eynon; Father Liam Bradley and Revd Martin Spain, officiated the dedication service.
The Springboard team were in attendance and Laura Philips spoke about the historical context of the stained glass window.
Bethan Andrews, Withybush Hospital Service Delivery Manager, (Stroke and COTE), representing the health board, gave the vote of thanks to conclude the dedication, followed by the blessing and recessional hymn.
(Lead image: Hywel Dda NHS)
Swansea professor’s COVID contribution recognised with new honour
A Swansea academic at the forefront of shaping our understanding of Covid-19 has received further recognition for his work in the field of data science.
This latest honour follows on from Professor Lyons becoming a Fellow of the Academy of Medical Sciences and being appointed OBE in the New Year’s honours.
The focus of his work is the use of routinely collected data to better understand factors that influence health and wellbeing and developing and evaluating interventions aimed to improve the health of the public. He has led some of the largest studies ever undertaken in this field and contributed to research surrounding the pandemic and its consequences at Wales, UK and European level.
Professor Lyons said he was delighted to have been recommended for membership of the prestigious Academia Europaea, which aims to encourage the highest possible standards in scholarship, research and education, and promote a better public understanding of the benefits of learning.
He said: “This honour is a recognition of the shared efforts and hard work of the various teams and partners I’ve had the privilege of working with over the years. None more so than over the last two years, during the pandemic.
“Through the European Population Health Information Research Infrastructure (PHIRI) Project we’re developing research infrastructure to generate the best Covid-19 population health knowledge. The multi-disciplinary, One Wales working group provided crucial evidence to Welsh Government’s response to Covid community transmission and informed policy development across the UK.
“The International Covid-19 Data Alliance (ICODA) partnership with Health Data Research UK and the Bills Gates Foundation and others, is supporting a globally coordinated approach to tackling Covid and future threats.
“This has been an incredibly challenging period for us all and I’m enormously proud that these labours have been acknowledged and rewarded by this election.”
Professor Lyons now joins more than 5,000 other eminent, individual scientists and scholars, who cover a broad range of academic disciplines that include former Nobel Prize laureates, Turing Award recipients and Fields Medal winners.
(Lead image: Swansea University)
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