HEALTH and local authority services which support residents in the community have been awarded the Cheshire Charter, accrediting their work to protect staff from the ill effects of second hand smoke.
NHS Western Cheshire, Community Care Western Cheshire, Countess of Chester Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, and Cheshire West and Chester Council have been accredited with the Cheshire Charter by cardiovascular health charity Heart of Mersey which devised the scheme.
They join seven other organisations which have already achieved Cheshire Charter status.
Current smokefree legislation prohibits all smoking in workplaces in the UK.
However, community staff such as district nurses, health visitors and community midwives, who visit clients in their own homes could be placed at risk from second hand smoke.
In these circumstances, a client’s home becomes, temporarily, a workplace for staff.
Echoing the legislation, organisations with Cheshire Charter accreditation will request that a client provide a room which has been smoke free for a minimum of 30 minutes prior to a planned visit by community staff.
Other Charter criteria specify that the organisation has a smokefree workplace policy, and that it advises clients and staff on ways to minimise their risk of exposure to second-hand smoke, and also advises on smokefree issues and stop smoking services.
Presenting the Charter to the newly accredited organisations, Heart of Mersey Chief Executive, Robin Ireland said: ‘The strength of the Charter lies in the range of organisations which have committed to developing policies and working practices to recognise the importance of the dangers of secondhand smoke.
“Attaining Charter status demonstrates a commitment to cultural change within an organisation and the influence it can have on the health of the community in which it works.”
Organisations in Cheshire that have already gained Cheshire Charter accreditation include Cheshire and Wirral Partnership NHS Foundation Trust, represented at the presentation, Cheshire Fire & Rescue Service, Central and Eastern Cheshire Primary Care Trust, Cheshire East Community Health and the Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service.