A PLAN to install three new smoking shelters outside Swindon’s hospital has been stubbed out by a national anti-smoking diktat.

Great Western Hospital had planned to put up three new visitor smoking shelters around the site. But the plans were put on hold, after Public Health England wrote to all NHS hospitals telling them to be smoke-free by January next year.

Now, smokers could be banned from the hospital as part of the new anti-smoking bid.

In a response to one question asked of GWH executives, head of health and safety Mark Hemphill said: “The trust did have a plan to install visitor smoking shelters, and a policy was drafted and installation of three smoking shelters outside of the atrium, west and emergency department entrances were specified and costed for installation by Carillion last summer.

“The plans changed three months ago at the direct request of Public Health England, who wrote to each trust chief executive and stated the importance of relaunching the Smoke Free NHS.”

All NHS trusts in England will go smoke free by the start of 2019, with smoking banned from hospital grounds.

Dr Ian Orpen and Dr Christin Blanshard, co-chairmen for the clinical board of the Bath, North East Somerset, Swindon and Wiltshire Sustainable Transformation Partnership, which commissions NHS services, said the changes were part of a bid to stop patients and staff smoking.

The doctors said: “We understand that some people may not wish to stop smoking and we will be providing them with assistance to ensure that during their stay in hospital or whilst at work they can abstain by using nicotine replacement therapy and support from our stop smoking advisors.”

There have previously been complaints to the hospital about the state of the area in front of GWH’s atrium. Patients and governors say it is littered with cigarette butts.

Joy Simpson, of Royal Wootton Bassett, even wrote to the hospital to complain about the litter. In a letter to GWH chief executive, shared with the Swindon Advertiser, she wrote: “We have a hospital to be proud of. I have received excellent treatment as I am sure have many other patients and visitors.

“It therefore saddens me greatly that the entrance to our fine hospital is spoilt in this way.”

The letter followed a question asked of GWH’s executive board by hospital governor Rosemarie Phillips. She had spoken to a young smoker on crutches near the atrium who told her that the smokers’ shelter at the back of the hospital was too far away for him.

“We cannot expect patients to give up smoking because they are in hospital and so would it be possible to divert them to a cabin which is more accessible?” Ms Phillips asked.