The Independent London Newspaper
20th November 2018

Sectioned mental health patients in Camden will be forced to give up smoking

    No smoking

    Camden and Islington Foundation Trust has become one of the first in the country to stop offering supervised smoking breaks to inpatients.

    Published: 16 January, 2015
    By TOM FOOT
     

    PEOPLE ‘sectioned’ in Camden will be forced to give up smoking under new rules.

    Camden and Islington Foundation Trust has become one of the first in the country to stop offering supervised smoking breaks to inpatients.

    The new policy means people who are diagnosed with serious disorders and judged not well enough to mix with the public will have no choice but to quit smoking.

    Health bosses say smoking is the “main cause of death” among its “service users” and “interferes with psychiatric treatment”.

    Patients are being offered nicotine patches and gum, and will be allowed to smoke “e-cigarettes”.

    The trust’s “smoking cessation” chief Simon Bristow said: “In recognition of the situation and in the interest of promoting choice we are going to permit people electronic cigarettes. We will supply nicotine replacement products without prescription. 

    “We have already begun decreasing smoking breaks and we will be completely smoke-free by March 11.

    “But this is not just about a smoking ban. The whole system has changed. We are increasing activities like football and dance, and fresh air breaks to fill the void.” Cigarettes have previously been a big part of life at Highgate Mental Health Centre, in Dartmouth Park Road, a unit where some of Camden’s most vulnerable and troubled people are detained. 

    Mr Bristow said that “timed access to smoking gardens is a really clinically inefficient way of managing nicotine dependence”.

    He added: “Around 80 per cent of people with psychotic illness smoke."

    A similar ban in another mental hospital had led to a drop of 40 per cent in positive urine tests for cannabis, he said, adding that change had been introduced after consultation with patients and staff.

    Comments

    Challenging

    Whilst I am all for Non-Smoking, I fear that forcing people with Mental Health issues to stop smoking is going to be difficult to enforce.

    Often these people have deep routed issues in their lives with smoking being a small release. Also I suspect that more Sectioned patients will abscond or threat or use violence to ensure that they can get a cigarette.

    I hope I am proved wrong!

    What about patients' human rights?

    These patients have human rights. They are in hospital (if they are sectioned, they are in hospital against their will). They have committed no crime. Why should they be deprived of smoking. I don't smoke but I can smoke a cigarette in my back garden or sitting room -it's my human right. Why can't sectioned mental health patients? I can see assaults on staff rising if this is enforced.

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