Smokers are to be provided with shelters outside Lynn’s Queen Elizabeth Hospital after a smoking ban proved impossible to enforce.
The shelters are aimed at moving hardened smokers away from the main entrance, where smoke has caused distress to some visitors and staff and resulted in complaints to the hospital.
A ban on smoking was introduced across the NHS in 2007 and backed by signs placed around the hospital, but was often ignored.
QEH Director of Experience Gwyneth Wilson said: “We had no legal powers to enforce the ban and our staff often experienced abuse and threats when we asked smokers to stop or offered them help to kick the habit.”
The hospital had accepted that smoking was a vital safety valve for some people if they were dealing with a stressful situation or had received bad news.
One new bus-stop style shelter is being built opposite the main entrance. Its wall will be printed with a rural scene to help it blend in with its surrounding and to lessen its visual impact.
Two others are to be located in the main car park and close to the secure cycle compound at the side of the main hospital block.
The total cost will be about £17,000.
Despite the change of heart, QEH was still committed to encouraging visitors patients and staff to stop smoking for the benefit of their health and display panels would be placed in the shelters.
Mrs Wilson said: “Dealing with smoking-related illnesses costs the NHS a huge sum each year which could usefully be spent treating other conditions. We will continue to promote the NHS stop smoking service at every available opportunity, including encouraging smokers to attend cessation clinics or obtain help from local pharmacies, GP practices and health advice services.”