According to a major new report launched today (Wednesday 7th December 2016), NHS hospitals across UK are falling ‘woefully short’ of national standards on helping patients who smoke to quit and enforcing smoke-free premises.
Experts presenting the findings at the British Thoracic Society (BTS) Winter Meeting, will state that many NHS hospitals are missing out on a ‘golden opportunity’ to provide what is often the most effective front-line treatment for smoking patients who are sick – support and medication to help them quit tobacco.
The BTS Report ‘Smoking cessation: policy and practice in NHS hospitals’ is unique in its scope and size; reviewing the smoking cessation & smoke-free policies and practices of 146 hospitals across UK between April and May 2016 – including the analysis of 14,750 patient records.
The main findings of the report are as follows:
- Over 7 in 10 (72%) hospital patients who smoked were not asked if they’d like to stop
- Only 1 in 13 (7.7%) hospital patients who smoked were referred for hospital-based or community treatment for their tobacco addiction
- Over 1 in 4 (27%) hospital patients were not even asked if they smoke
- Only 1 in 10 hospitals completely enforce their fully smoke-free premises. Rates of enforcement were even lower for hospitals which provided areas where smoking was allowed. The report highlights the importance of a smoke-free NHS – to trigger and support quit smoking attempts for patients and reduce second hand smoke exposure for children, staff and the public
- Provision of nicotine replacement therapies and other smoking cessation treatments were ‘poor’ in hospital pharmacy formularies
- Only 26% of hospitals had an identified consultant ‘lead’ overseeing their smoke-free and smoking cessation plans
- 50% of frontline healthcare staff in hospitals were not offered training in smoking cessation
In the study, 25% of hospital patients were recorded as being ‘current smokers’ – which is higher than rates in the general adult population (19%) Other studies have shown that approximately 1.1 million smokers are admitted to NHS hospitals a year.
The Society is using the report findings to call for all hospitals to deliver NICE Guidelines in this area (PH48) and that national regulators such as the Care Quality Commission (CQC) hold Hospital Boards accountable for the delivery of smoke-free and smoking cessation hospital policies.
The report also highlights a number of key activities that all NHS hospitals should deliver to help more of their patients quit smoking:
- Offer a prescription for Nicotine Replacement Therapy to all patients who smoke to help them cope with their tobacco dependence whilst in hospital
- Refer all patients who smoke in hospital to specialised stop smoking support services to explore the option of quitting smoking. Patients can opt out if they like – but the NHS should try to offer the most effective treatment and support whatever the illness – and with many smoking-related conditions such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), support and medication to help people quit smoking are the best front line treatments
- Employ an appropriately skilled senior clinician within the hospital to oversee, drive forward, and be accountable for the hospital’s smoking cessation service
- Employ smoking cessation practitioners in every hospital – this was recommended by NICE in 2013 but the report shows patchy delivery across the country
- Hospital Board involvement in delivering plans is key. Delivering smoke-free hospital grounds – as part of a wider smoking cessation policy – requires Hospital Boards to work together including the chief executive, director of human resources, director of facilities and the medical and nursing directors – in partnership with the the ‘smoking cessation lead’ at the hospital
The Society is also encouraging more health professionals to become BTS ‘Stop Smoking Champions’ in their hospital. There are over 160 at present and they deliver a range of vital activities to champion stop smoking service provision. For further information, contact firstname.lastname@example.org or to see a video about the initiative go to: