Board members, not staff, will decide whether locked-in
mental health patients at Southern District Health Board are
allowed to smoke.
Chairman Joe Butterfield said, when contacted, he had decided
the matter needed to go before the board, overriding a senior
mental health staff member who last month told the Otago
Daily Times a ban would be implemented.
Staff planned to remove an exemption on mental health wards
after the High Court, last month at Auckland, dismissed a
challenge to Waitemata District Health Board's smoking ban in
Mr Butterfield, however, was sympathetic to the staff view,
saying the matter only had to be considered at governance
level because the board stepped in three years ago.
''While it is an operational issue, it has to come back to
the board, because the board has already made a decision [in
''If that previous board decision had not been made, then I
would agree [with staff] ... that it is an operational
decision which needn't come to the board.''
Three years ago, staff tried to stop locked-in patients from
smoking in a pilot scheme at Wakari Hospital that was halted.
An application to the board, soon after the pilot scheme, to
ban smoking throughout mental health wards was turned down.
The main opponent in 2010, board member Richard Thomson,
seems likely to resist the new attempt when it comes before
the board again next month.
Mr Thomson believes smoking bans in locked-in facilities are
akin to forced treatment, and last month said staff were not
authorised to lift the exemption.
• The decision to quit smoking must remain a personal
one, Dunedin mental health consumer group Incite says.
Incite spokesman Mike McAlevey said the group had been asked
by Southern District Health Board staff to help implement a
ban, but it remained opposed to that approach.
''A positive rather than a punitive approach, making the
wards places where people are well occupied, rather than
simply bored, would be more likely to result in contented
people who smoke less.''
The group wants the board to retain the position reached
three years ago when it decided to exempt those detained
under the Mental Health Act.
''Incite remains concerned about the level of support that
will be available to smokers who are detained under the
Mental Health Act. It will not be sufficient just to
confiscate cigarettes and hand out nicotine patches,'' Mr
The group did not support smoking, and was concerned about
the poor physical health of mental health service patients.
The Dunedin wards had large outside areas where people could
smoke without endangering the health of staff, visitors, or
other patients, he said.