PEOPLE working at hospitals in Worcestershire have just three months to go before they are banned from smoking at work.

Worcestershire Acute Hospitals NHS Trust voted last December to ban all employees from smoking on hospital grounds - including in car parks - from Thursday, June 19.

Patients and visitors will still be permitted to use smoking shelters but the trust - which runs Worcestershire Royal Hospital, Kidderminster Hospital and Redditch's Alexandra Hospital - is planning to become completely smoke-free by next year.

The trust has launched a countdown to the date to give staff the opportunity to stamp out their habit before the rules change.

Stop smoking adviser at Worcestershire Royal Hospital Jan Robbins said it generally takes about 12 weeks for the body to overcome dependency on nicotine so it was an ideal time for colleagues to make a start on stamping out the habit.

"I’ll be out in the hospital entrance during the countdown to June 19 talking to staff about the upcoming change and making sure everyone knows we’re here to help," she said.

"With the help of an NHS stop smoking advisor you are four times more likely to quit.”

In November last year the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence called on hospitals to enforce a blanket ban on smoking at all sites. But three months later it was found many were still allowing people to light up on hospital grounds.

The trust's director of human resources Bev Edgar said: “Becoming smokefree to staff means we are promoting healthy choices and setting an example to our patients.

“We run our own stop smoking advice sessions and we will be offering staff the support they need to give up before June 19.

"Our stop smoking advisors can also support patients and relatives.

“In 2015 we will become completely smokefree and all smoking shelters will be removed from our sites.”

To book an appointment with a stop smoking adviser call 0300 1231619 or 01562 513 225.