A HOSPITAL trust's attempts to stop people smoking in the doorways of buildings has led to some staff facing abuse and being left in fear of violence.

South Tees Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust has banned people from smoking on its premises but has found it difficult to enforce the rules outside its buildings.

As a result, new mums and maternity staff at Middlesbrough's James Cook University Hospital have been urging smokers to rethink their habits.

And the initiative has the full backing of the trust's chief executive Professor Tricia Hart.

She said: "I am personally delighted that our trust is not losing the energy to try to deal with a major Public Health issue.

We need the support from our community and every agency across our localities to enlist the support of the public not to smoke on the James Cook University Hospital site particularly at entrances to our hospital.

"It seems anomalous that no one smokes on a train platform yet our hospital entrances are often surrounded by plumes of smoke from visitors. While we are supporting patients, often at times when they are the most vulnerable, I am seeing increasing complaints by patients and their loved ones when they have to walk through smokey entrances.

"Our staff in reception often complain. When we politely ask people to refrain from smoking on the site, my staff, including me have been on the receipt of verbal abuse and at times made to feel quite uncomfortable about the potential of physical violence.

"We need the support of the public. We are trying to improve the health of the public."

The group from the hospital’s family and birth (FAB) forum have been campaigning to highlight the impact that smoking at the women and children’s entrance has on staff and patients.

Clinical matron Lynne Young said: “As part of our action plan on reducing smoking we are urging patients and visitors to help us keep our hospital entrances smoke free.

“We want to be compassionate but we want to keep the environment clean and safe for the majority of staff and patients who don’t smoke.

“New mums often say it is unpleasant that the first experience of the outside world for their babies is a group of smokers.

“We don’t want to harass people but we want them to know there is support available if they want help to quit.”