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National audit launched to probe stop smoking services in NHS hospitals

The British Thoracic Society (BTS) is launching a major new study today (No Smoking Day – 9 March 2016) to probe the level, and effectiveness of, stop smoking services provided in NHS hospitals across UK.

Previous audits have shown that although nearly half (48%) offer some form of stop smoking service there is huge room for improvement:

  • Only 25% have a dedicated hospital smoking cessation practitioner
  • Over half (56%) of documented smokers were not asked if they would like to stop smoking
  • Only 23% of patients who were asked if they would like to quit, were actually referred to a hospital-based stop smoking service
  • 75% are currently not completely smoke-free

Recent data shows that the number of people who smoke in Britain has stalled at 19%. And lung specialists believe it is essential that hospitals play their part in helping reduce levels again by offering comprehensive stop smoking support and treatment for patients on their wards.

A range of studies also indicate that:

  • Stop smoking treatment and support is the single most cost effective intervention provided by NHS
  • Between 13 – 35% of patients on hospital wards are smokers and approximately 2/3 of smokers say they want to quit
  • Being admitted to hospital can be a good time for smokers to think about quitting – given that smoking should be prohibited on the premises, tobacco use may be linked to their health condition, and expert stop smoking advice and therapies are potentially ‘on tap.’

BTS is encouraging smoking cessation leads in hospitals across UK to participate in the change-making audit.

It will analyse both in-patient notes as well as organisational data on smoking cessation services. It will run from 1 April to 31 May 2016 and full instructions are provided on the BTS Audit Tools website: https://audits.brit-thoracic.org.uk. Health professionals can familiarise themselves with the system now, before the national audit period starts on 1 April 2016.

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 [email protected] or to see a brand new video about the initiative go to www.brit-thoracic.org.uk/clinical-information/smoking-cessation/

Dr Sanjay Agrawal, consultant lung specialist & Chair of the British Thoracic Society’s Tobacco Special Advisory Group, said:

‘Smoking levels in Britain have stalled and we need a historic push on a number of levels to help reduce rates again – and potentially save a huge number of lives.

One area that we really need to focus on is providing first class stop smoking support in hospitals. This will offer huge gains for both patients and the NHS.

Stopping smoking is one of the most effective treatments for many patients who are admitted to hospital. But although services have improved over the years – many hospitals could do so much more by identifying patients who smoke and giving them rigorous support to quit if they want to.

We encourage all hospitals to take part in our audit, so we can find out the national state of play.

BTS will then map out a plan of action to help ramp up the quality and effectiveness of hospital stop smoking services. This could help revolutionise the number of smokers kicking the habit, saving many lives and reducing NHS costs.’