Mental health patients banned from smoking at Hellingly unit

The Hellingly CentreThe Hellingly Centre
The Hellingly Centre
The NHS trust in charge of a secure unit for people with mental health problems has banned patients, staff, carers and visitors from smoking on any of its premises.

The Sussex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust said the decision to make The Hellingly Centre and its other centres smoke free would create ‘a healthier environment for everyone’.

Hellingly is a medium secure unit for adults who have mental health problems and who have become involved with the criminal justice system.

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The unit caters for both men and women and includes Southview Low Secure Unit, a service for people who have committed a criminal offence or have significant challenging behaviour that requires a higher level of security than can be provided in mainstream adult mental health services.

The trust says that people with mental health issues are more likely to smoke, and to smoke more heavily than other people and this is one of the main reasons that they tend to have poorer physical health and lower life expectancy.

It added that the smoke from tobacco also reduces the effectiveness of some types of medication, meaning larger doses are required compared to those needed by a non-smoker.

Since Wednesday (March 1) staff, patients, carers and visitors have been banned from smoking anywhere on site, including in doorways, grounds and car parks.

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This includes electronic cigarettes, with the exception of inpatient wards where patients will be allowed to use disposable e-cigarettes.

The trust also runs mental health services at other locations including Avenida House in Upper Avenue, Eastbourne, and Highmore in Western Road, Hailsham, as well as services at the DGH and the Woodlands Centre for Acute Care at the Conquest Hospital in Hastings.

The trust said it has a responsibility to support patients’ physical health, as well as their mental health.

Diane Hull, executive director of nursing and patient experience at Sussex Partnership, said, “Smoking is the leading cause of premature death in the UK, and two out of every five cigarettes are smoked by someone with a mental health condition.

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“Most of the reduction in life expectancy among people with serious mental illness is attributable to smoking.

“We have a responsibility to support our patients’ physical health as well as their mental health and going smoke free is a big part of helping us to do this.”

Clinical staff across Sussex Partnership have been given smoking cessation training so that they have the skills and knowledge to support patients, whether they want to quit smoking permanently or just in the short term during their stay or visit.

Support available to patients includes Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT) and intensive behavioural support.

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National Institute for Health and Care Excellence guidelines recommend all hospital sites, including mental health hospitals, should be completely smoke free.

The move to go ‘smoke free’ comes ahead of National No Smoking Day on Wednesday, March 8.

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