A BAN on smoking outside Worcestershire Royal Hospital may be a step closer after health bosses ordered a review into lighting up on-site.

Currently smokers can satisfy their habit in shelters at least 10 metres from the building as well as outside Worcestershire Acute NHS Hospitals Trust’s two other county venues. The news comes after recent pressure from smoke-free campaigners who say the idea of hospitals allowing smoking is contradictory.

“I’m very pleased to hear they’re taking things forward,” said Dr David Tibbutt, a member of the Smoke Free Worcestershire Alliance and a city councillor who sits on the health overview and scrutiny committee. “I feel very strongly about it and I hope they look at it in depth.

“About 100,000 people die each year in the UK as a consequence of smoking. That is like losing the population of Worcester each year.

“It gives all the wrong messages to say you can smoke on hospital premises. We have got to be much firmer.

“Of course it is their choice but people have got to realise that the consequences of smoking are so serious.

“I know it’s very, very difficult to stop but the rewards are enormous.” The Trust, which also runs the Alexandra Hospital in Redditch and the Kidderminster Hospital and Treatment Centre, confirmed in a statement that a review was due to begin soon. “An existing member of staff is about to review smoking on our hospital sites, taking into account patient and staff opinion to help us decide the best way forward,” said Bev Edgar, director of workforce and organisational development with the NHS Trust. “We support the principle of smoke-free, but we also recognise how difficult the logistics are for implementing it.”

Coun Andy Roberts, who chairs the overview and scrutiny committee, says he has received a letter from NHS Trust chief executive Penny Venables who told him the Trust has had to strike a balance between the health benefits and patients and staff who want to smoke outside, away from the main buildings.

Coun Roberts said he is pleased by the news and said the committee will discuss the matter again during its next meeting on September 4.