Thursday, April 06, 2006

One down, how many to go?

Sent to the newspapers 6/4/06

Dear Sir

A trainee nurse has been stabbed to death whilst taking a smoking break. It was 11am when her body was found in a garden at the rear of St George's Hospital, Hornchurch. It is thought that she had gone for a break and because she chose to smoke she had had to go to a remote area on the periphery of the hospital grounds. There she stood ready for attack by the next passing madman. Please note it was broad daylight.

The life of a mother's daughter has been taken as a direct result of an NHS Hospital Trusts' Smoking Policy and more will follow. I cry for this young lady's family and for all her colleagues at St. George's Hospital. Please all of you accept my heart felt sympathy.

I would like to plead to Patricia Hewitt to start to consider the implications of her Health Department led agenda for "smoke free" hospitals and to look at the wider issue of the inclusion of "smoke free" legislation in The Health Bill. It is not in anyone's interests to expose UK citizens to this level of harassment whereby they are hounded to unsafe places to smoke a cigarette. This risk was no doubt foreseen and taken as acceptable. That is clearly a scandal itself, notwithstanding that the grounds presented as supporting "smoke free" policies and bans are without basis in fact.

I am appalled at this government's determination to be led blindly by the anti-smoking lobby into deeply flawed policy and legislation. There is no excuse for not predicting the possibility of this horrific incident. The blame must lie very squarely at the government's feet. Democracy has been tainted perversely by propaganda. Those in power must see the error of their ways.

The net result so far of what started as a minority of people's dislike for the smell of tobacco smoke is the death of a single nurse. The "smoke police" have convinced the government to fear their invention of "passive smoking" and fascist policy has led to a fatality. This is just the beginning.

Dr Phil Button

Associate Specialist in Anaesthesia & Pain Relief