Health leaders in Humber and North Yorkshire have hailed the impact of a new service to help hospital patients quit smoking.
Since the start of the rollout of the tobacco dependency treatment service from the region's hospitals a year ago, more than 2,000 patients have been seen, with a third of those going on to become "completely smokefree" 28 days after leaving hospital.
The service is offered to patients – as well as staff – to support them to be smokefree on a hospital site, moving towards a truly Smokefree NHS. It's part of the NHS Long Term Plan, which says all hospitals should offer tobacco dependency treatment services to inpatients, maternity service users and mental health patients by 2024.
The Humber and North Yorkshire Health and Care Partnership began working on the design and logistics of the service in late 2021, with the first patients treated in August 2022.
Peter Roderick, Consultant in Public Health for Humber and North Yorkshire Integrated Care Board (ICB), and Senior Responsible Officer for the tobacco programme, said: "Smoking remains the single leading cause of preventable death in the Humber and North Yorkshire area and has a huge negative impact on health – cigarettes kill two out of every three users.
"Rather than simply telling people not to smoke when they come to hospital, offering effective tobacco dependency treatment is the most important thing we can do to free people from addiction, reduce their chances of having to come back to hospital and help them live longer, healthier and happier lives."
Barbara Lucas, a Tobacco Dependency Treatment Advisor at Hull University Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust added: "It has been brilliant to see the amount of people who have managed to quit for good with the help of the Tobacco Dependency Treatment Team after years of smoking.
"People tend to worry about cravings and withdrawal symptoms, but once they find the right level of nicotine replacement therapy, most really don’t need to smoke at all.
"The bit that I love, is talking to the patients and working together to address habits and triggers around smoking and suggesting small changes which can ease that person’s journey to becoming Smokefree."
A working group of representatives from NHS Humber and North Yorkshire ICB, hospital trusts, local government, community stop smoking services, pharmacy and public health teams worked together to develop and connect all providers of tobacco dependency treatment services with the new hospital delivered service, which in turn offers a more seamless service user experience.
Smoking is recognised as a chronic, relapsing, and treatable condition, rather than a lifestyle choice. Fortunately, there are very effective treatments available through Tobacco Dependency Treatment Teams in hospitals and community stop smoking services. People who get support are up to three times more likely to quit for good, than those who don’t.
Of the patients seen to date in hospital, more than 60 per cent went on to make a plan to quit.
In addition to the hospital-based services, the ICB also rolled-out an enhanced stop smoking support offer for staff and contractors on NHS sites, helping them to be Smokefree at work.
Research Nurse, Paul Brittain decided give quitting another try in summer 2022. He explained: "What really helped me during my early days was the positive language that I heard: the team were non-judgemental, supportive, and acknowledging of the challenge and potential difficulties quitting smoking can pose.
"Nearly a year on and I feel amazing – breathing, moving, and smelling better than ever! More importantly, I am still smoke free, which I never envisaged hearing myself say and it’s all thanks to the ‘Swap and Stop Team’ at York and Scarborough Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust."