NHS Fife is again facing up to the long-running problem of smokers gathering outside hospitals after complaints that maternity wards are being affected at the new-look Victoria.

The hospital has not had its troubles to seek since opening in January but the latest challenge is one that has often cropped up in the past.

The smoke from those at the entrance is wafting its way into the nearby maternity raising concerns for the welfare of the babies there.

Past measures such as installing large plant pots at the main entrance of the Queen Margaret Hospital - to push the smokers further away from the doors - were tried to little effect.

People arriving at the Dunfermline hospital often had to walk through palls of smoke from puffing patients, staff and visitors.

NHS board member John Winton said, "There's certainly no simple answer to this long-standing problem.

"We've all seen it - patients in wheelchairs, in their housecoats, at the doors of a hospital smoking.

"There has been the suggestion of making smoking shelters but the problem is that no smoking is allowed in hospital grounds.

"That's the policy: 'no smoking' but it can't really be enforced if people are smoking outside.

"Now people are saying the smoke is going up and into the maternity wards.

"Dave Stewart (NHS Fife operations division committee chair) has the idea of asking MSPs if the law can be changed.

"That would create other problems if police had to be called because somebody was smoking.

"I'm reticent about making any suggestions over this because any plan can be shot down and there are no easy answers.

"If someone speaks to them about smoking they're likely to get a load of abuse and it could get out of hand in some cases."