NHS on countdown to smokefree status

Directors of public health and consultants in Northumberland and North Tyneside support the smokefree plans.
Directors of public health and consultants in Northumberland and North Tyneside support the smokefree plans.

Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust is marching towards becoming smokefree in the spring.

As part of its commitment to improving the health and wellbeing of its staff, patients and visitors, smoking will not be permitted in any of the trust’s hospitals, community sites or grounds from March 31.

The step will help protect people from the harmful effects of second-hand smoke and by providing support to help smokers quit, play a part in reducing the number of people who smoke and the serious illnesses that are associated with smoking.

Despite declines in smoking prevalence over recent decades, 17.2 per cent of adults in the North East still smoke.

Judith Stonebridge, public health consultant at Northumbria Healthcare, said: “With less than six months to go, it’s important that all our patients, visitors and staff are aware of our plans and the support that is available to smokers to help them to quit.

“We have, as one of this area’s largest employers and the country’s leading trusts, an important regional role to help reduce the number of smokers and, in turn, the serious illnesses related to smoking.

“Going smokefree will mean a much more pleasant, and above all, safer environment for everyone who uses, or works in, our services and bring about improvements in health.

“It also sends a clear message to our communities of the need for people to take responsibility for their own health and wellbeing.”

Since launching the plans in March, the trust has been engaging with staff and setting up training to ensure that they act as ‘smokefree’ ambassadors and every opportunity is used to promote stopping smoking to patients.

The trust has also held ‘smokefree’ roadshows across its hospital sites to raise awareness and as a result of this work some staff have already taken the opportunity to access support to help them stop smoking.

A key part of the trust’s work in the run-up to going ‘smokefree’ is providing stop smoking support to pregnant women in order to help give every child the best start in life, given smoking during pregnancy is associated with a range of negative health outcomes for mother and baby. Currently 16.7% of pregnant women in the North East are reported to be smokers when they give birth.

Liz Morgan, interim director of public health at Northumberland County Council, said: “The harmful effects of smoking are well documented and about half of all long-term smokers will die prematurely. There is no place for smoking in the NHS so I’m delighted that Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust is taking this progressive step by becoming ‘smokefree’.”

County residents can call the Northumberland NHS Stop Smoking Service on 01670 813135 or visit www.northumbria.nhs.uk/stopsmoking for helpful information on stopping smoking.