Photo of woman puffing cigarette directly below neonatal unit shows how smoking ban is being ignored at Milton Keynes Hospital

Smokers and non-smokers alike have taken to social media to vent about flouting of the rules

By Sally Murrer
Monday, 17th May 2021, 3:25 pm
Updated Monday, 17th May 2021, 3:26 pm

Residents in MK are calling for better management of the smoking ban on the MK hospital site.

Since 2017 the hospital has been a smoke free zone and outside smoking areas have been removed to discourage people from puffing anywhere near the building.

But the ban is frequently ignored by patients and visitors alike, and cigarette buts are a common sight around exits to the building.

Smokers outside the hospital are a frequent sight - despite the ban

One man had enough when he spotted a woman smoking at 6am, directly underneath the window to the neonatal unit and right next to a no smoking sign.

He took to Facebook to publish the photo, saying: "I rarely get angry but today I must admit I did with this woman smoking outside Milton Keynes University Hospital NHS Foundation Trust whilst stood next to a sign explaining that above her head is the children’s intensive care (neonatal unit) windows, where the most delicate little babies are often struggling to stay alive.

"It makes me so incredibly upset as I know first hand her disgusting second hand smoke goes into the rooms of these babies."

The man added: "I’m sure she either wasn’t aware or blissfully ignorant to the facts but I’m compelled to try and help sort this, as I keep seeing it happen outside hospital doors. I just don’t know what else can be done, so social media is the only option for now to raise awareness and push other people to speak out against it if you see it."


The man said smoking also happens at the main entrances, where people walking in or out are forced to inhale second hand smoke.

He said: "This is an endless battle with people thinking it’s OK to smoke next to doors or windows of buildings like hospitals and shopping centres. I’m keen to highlight this issue at Milton Keynes hospital and I’m hoping to gain the support of locals to push for real change to government and also management on site."

Readers agreed with the man and congratulated him for the rant, with one woman saying: "And the anonymous lady in question appears to be expecting a baby herself. If so that makes it even worse. It is sad, irresponsible and downright stupid behaviour."

Another reader said: "The smoking area should be outside and well away from any buildings...I’m more ambivalent as this is an addiction and at least it’s out in the open."

A third said: "The problem is that some patients are addicted to smoking and need to smoke somewhere. They cannot smoke inside so congregate near entrances because at least it’s outside. Hospitals used to have smoking rooms; they need to reintroduce them in locations where escaping smoke isn’t a problem, and where they can install adequate filtration."

MKUH describes itself as "an entirely smoke-free site". Patients, visitors and staff are not be permitted to smoke anywhere on the hospital grounds. This included e-cigarettes and vaping and relates to all outdoor areas, including the car parks.

Chief Executive Professor Joe Harrison said when the ban was first enforced: “We are committed to creating an entirely smoke-free zone around our hospital as a positive step towards creating a healthier environment across our site.

“The harmful health effects of tobacco smoke are well documented and it is clear from the feedback we have received that smoking in public areas on site is something that is no longer acceptable to the majority of our patients, visitors and staff.

“We have been working closely with the Stop Smoking Service at Milton Keynes Council to ensure that we are able to provide all the necessary support for staff, patients and visitors to give up smoking and adopt healthier lifestyle alternatives.”

A hospital spokesman said today: "Milton Keynes University Hospital is an entirely smoke-free site. This means patients, visitors and staff are not permitted to smoke anywhere on the hospital grounds. This includes all outdoor areas, including the car parks."