OXFORDSHIRE’S hospital trust is to flout a recommendation by a Government body that smoking should be banned from its sites.

Oxford University Hospitals NHS Trust has said it will continue with its plans to install smoking shelters at all four of its hospital sites – the John Radcliffe, Churchill and Nuffield Orthopaedic Centre in Oxford, and the Horton General in Banbury.

This is despite the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (Nice) issuing guidance that hospital sites should be “smoke-free”.

Mark Trumper, director of development and the estate at Oxford University Hospitals NHS Trust, said: “We continue to discourage smoking on all of our hospital sites. However we have accepted that it has not been practical or legally enforceable to prevent patients and visitors from smoking in areas where they are not directly impacting on non-smoking patients, visitors and staff.

“We hope that the installation of shelters will encourage people to consider the impact that smoking has on the wider public, and we hope to create a more appropriate environment around our entrance areas which is where we historically have had a significant problem.

“The policy for staff will not change. Staff are prohibited from smoking anywhere on our hospital sites and any member found smoking on site will be subject to internal disciplinary procedures.”

Earlier this year, the trust was given planning permission to put smoking shelters up at all of its hospital sites.

Mr Trumper said it is still in the process of finalising the new policy on smoking and no firm date has been set for their installation.

City councillor Ruth Wilkinson, whose Headington ward includes the John Radcliffe, said: “We have campaigned alongside residents for a very long time to petition the trust to establish shelters for smokers on the site.

“Smoking-related nuisance caused by trust staff has caused immense annoyance to those living near the boundary who have had to endure smoking litter and the smell of cigarette smoke in their gardens.

“Ideally we would like to see all staff employed by the trust and Carillion to be offered assistance to quit smoking, but we are assured by smoking cessation nurses that smokers often cannot quit the habit overnight and a more effective approach would be a planned phased reduction in cigarette intake.”

The decision to install the shelters was criticised by many of Oxfordshire’s senior doctors, including Dr Jonathan McWilliam, the county’s director of public health.

Now their voices have been joined by that of Nice which has said NHS staff, visitors, and family members should also be encouraged to stop smoking.

Prof Mike Kelly, director of public health at Nice, said: “It is absurd that smoking is still being passively encouraged within hospitals. The professionals have to be willing to take this guidance on.”