Smoking hospital staff spark complaints

Hospital staff are using a nearby wood to flout the smoking ban at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, it emerged yesterday.

Hospital staff are using nearby woods to flout the smoking ban at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital at King's Lynn, it emerged yesterday.

The QEH officially became

a no-smoking zone on September 1 after staff were consulted about the change and agreed the policy, brought in to comply with new legislation.

But smokers have been sneaking a few yards off hospital property on to nearby woodland during breaks

to indulge their nicotine addiction, leading to complaints from local residents.

Now health workers have been warned that popping

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out for quick cigarette could

lead to disciplinary action.

Director of human resources and facilities management Amanda Lyes said: "The piece of land used by smokers is outside the hospital limits, however, staff should be reminded that if they are taking a break during paid working time they are

not permitted to go off-site without proper authorisation.

"It's a little wood separating the QEH from a residential area. I'm getting daily phone calls from residents saying they don't like the smoke coming into their gardens."

The situation has led to a number of calls and letters from people living on the nearby Springwood estate.

Householders are angry with hospital staff congregating near their homes and smoke drifting into their gardens, and have expressed fears that discarded food left at the

spot is attracting rats to

the area.

A spokesman for the QEH confirmed there were concerns over whether staff returning from a sly smoke might be bringing rat-borne infections into the hospital on their shoes.

Unison spokesman Ron Glazebrook said: "If staff choose to ignore the restrictions on smoking they are leaving themselves open to disciplinary action."