PATIENTS and visitors to a so-called tobacco-free hospital are flouting the ban on smoking, the Herald has learned.
Bosses at Dublin's Beaumont Hospital have admitted that smoking on the campus is still widespread, nine months after it declared that it was becoming a smoke-free facility.
Documents obtained by the Herald reveal that the hospital is now considering "other solutions for enforcing the campus policy".
As an initial measure, hospital management has ordered the drawing of a boundary line beyond which smoking is strictly prohibited.
More than €11,000 from the hospital's budget was spent on signage last year after the hospital announced it was adopting the smoke-free policy.
On making the announcement, the hospital's chief executive, Liam Duffy, stated that it was the hospital's 'obligation' to provide a safe environment for patients, staff and visitors.
"The transition to a smoke-free campus is one that Beaumont feels is a necessary and natural step in continuing to provide safe and effective health care," Mr Duffy said.
But according to minutes of a recent board meeting, the policy is being "continually flouted by patients and visitors".
"The chief executive reported on challenges to enforcing the tobacco-free policy for the hospital campus.
"Despite huge efforts by the health promotion department, with support from staff across the hospital, the policy is continually being flouted by patients and visitors.
"This is particularly evident at the main entrance and at the emergency department," minutes from a January meeting state.
Management will now consider "other solutions" in order to improve the level of compliance by patients and visitors.
The minutes state that the hospital's steering group concluded that a boundary line should be drawn beyond which smoking is not permitted.
"The objective will be to start with achieving a high level of compliance within a confined area as an initial phase and expanding this when some of the cultural/behavioural issues have been addressed.
"The board supported this action and stressed that the primary aim should be to enforce the no-smoking policy at the entrances, and also for management to continue to consider other solutions for enforcing the campus policy."