NHS urged to do more to help smokers quit

Ailsa Rutter, director of Fresh, with Dr Tony Branson.
Ailsa Rutter, director of Fresh, with Dr Tony Branson.

Calls are being for the NHS to do more to help prevent hospital admissions and deaths from smoking.

NHS organisations around the country are being urged to sign the NHS Smokefree Pledge to support patients to quit and create tobacco-free environments that support them to stop.

In the North East, a taskforce has been set up to work with NHS trusts to ensure all patients who smoke are offered support to quit, with a target of April 2019 for all the region’s NHS trusts to be implementing NICE guidance for smoking.

Last week, North East doctor Dr Tony Branson and Fresh North East launched the Smokefree Pledge in Parliament.

Dr Branson said: “Tobacco is the single biggest cause of cancer, kills smokers on average ten years early, and is one of the main causes of hospital admissions.

“As providers of healthcare we must be more proactive in asking about smoking and offering help and support to quit.

“The NHS is more stretched than ever before, but treating tobacco dependency is one of the single most effective ways we can improve outcomes for patients and reduce the chances of them being re-admitted to hospital.

“This is a vital opportunity for the NHS to tackle this issue and help us reduce the burden of smoking-related diseases on our wards.”

Ailsa Rutter, Director of Fresh, said: “A patient who continues to smoke has a one in two chance of being killed by tobacco addiction unless they quit.”

“As well as treating immediate conditions, doctors, nurses and GPs are in a unique position to alter the course of a patient’s long-term health.

“The North East has set a vision of five per cent of people smoking by 2025 and if we are to get there, the NHS must play a strong prevention role. The evidence is strong that tackling smoking is cost effective and can save the NHS millions of pounds.”

Simon Stevens, Chief Executive of NHS England, said: “Most smokers want to quit and we’re seeing good progress on lower smoking rates. To build on this we’d now like to see NHS organisations across the country sign up to the NHS Smokefree Pledge.”