Tuesday, 7 July 2015

Banning smoking at mental health units. A rant at Bradford's health fascists.

Bradford NHS Care Trust decided to ban smoking everywhere on its sites in Bradford.

A BLANKET ban on smoking has come into force at Lynfield Mount psychiatric hospital in Bradford.

Bradford District Care NHS Foundation Trust said the ban also affected all its buildings, grounds and vehicles, including the Airedale Centre for Mental Health at Airedale Hospital at Steeton, Keighley.

Nicola Lees, deputy chief executive and director of nursing at the Trust, said the decision had been taken to help patients' mental health as well as theirs and staff's physical health.

This decision has been presented uncritically in the local paper and is accompanied by almost congratulatory quotations from Public Health England.

Let's be clear about this - it is a ghastly, unnecessary and illiberal attack on the rights of mental health patients. These are vulnerable people - they're not in the Care Trust's units for fun, they're there because they want (or need - some are in a secure unit under the provisions of the Mental Health Acts) help with mental health problems. And let's also be clear that forcing them to quit smoking (and this is exactly what the Trust is doing) makes little or no contribution to resolving their mental health problems - indeed, for some, it might even make them worse.

This decision isn't a substantive contribution to bettering the health of Bradford people. Rather, it's a nasty, spiteful and thoughtless piece of tick-box public health introduced by people who care more about being seen to be righteous than they do about the well-being of mental health patients. There is no health and safety justification (it's a ban outside where passive smoking risks are zero), merely a sad conformity with the English NHS's growing attachment of health fascism.

Don't these patients have some rights left. Rights to make their own choice as adults about whether or not to smoke? It would appear not - the health fascists have won again.


1 comment:

Manx Gent said...

Years ago I worked in two or three UK Victorian 'mental institutions', including the big one near Guiseley whose name now escapes me just a few years before it finally shut. Yes, they were grim, yes, they got things wrong. On the other hand, I remember things like taking long term patients out for weekly outings to village pubs, where the locals were used to their odd traits and treated them well, or the casual way in which staff brought in fags for some patients so seriously disturbed they were not allowed off secure wards.
When I read reports like this (2nd about a Yorkshire hospital in a week)I know something has gone badly wrong with attitudes in the health service, and it shouldn't need a psychology degree or an expesnive survey to address it. Just some old fashioned empathy for the less fortunate.