SMOKING shelters for patients, visitors and staff have been reintroduced at two south coast hospitals.

Trust managers were forced into the u-turn because of safety issues around the number of people defying the five-year-old smoke-free policy.

Some patients had been caught smoking under the bedclothes, in stairwells, toilets, storerooms, courtyards and even next to the oxygen store. The fire service had been called out and staff had put out small fires with jugs of water. Employees had been caught smoking in 21 areas around the Royal Bournemouth Hospital site and six at Christchurch Hospital, leading to a build-up of debris and litter.

Smoking continues to be banned inside the hospitals.