Northern Lincolnshire and Goole NHS Foundation Trust is putting in place new approaches to help patients, visitors and staff quit smoking.
The announcement comes after the Trust secured the skills and knowledge of Scott Crosby, from Public Health England, who has worked with other trusts on campaigns to help them support people to quit.
This is part of a wider approach the Trust is taking to put more focus on prevention work and improving compliance —rather than enforcement— which is key to tackling smoking prevalence, both in the community generally as well as within hospitals.
Scott, who will lead the Trust’s Heath Improvement work, said: “Smoking is still one of the biggest causes of death in this country. One in four hospital beds are occupied by a smoker, and most of them want to quit.
“Many patients or visitors will be going through difficult times, but smoking remains England’s biggest preventable killer and we believe it is time for us to support patients who smoke to quit. That’s why our emphasis is shifting efforts away from simply ‘enforcement’ and rather towards garnering support and continually finding ways to improve ‘compliance’.
“This means leading with ensuring every clinician is having a conversation with smokers and providing them with a route to quit. There is clear evidence that the most effective way to quit smoking is with expert behavioural support from local stop smoking services, combined with stop smoking aids; if a we are successful in doing this, we will save thousands of lives.”
One of the first changes patients and visitors will see is the installation of a smoking shelter at Diana Princess of Wales Hospital in Grimsby.
The shelter, which is located close to the main entrance, has been put in place as a temporary measure to enable patients and visitors to smoke cigarettes away from the hospital’s front doors and A&E department.
The Trust is allowing cigarettes to be smoked in the shelter for the next year. During this time a range of additional measures will put in place by the Trust to tackle smoking amongst patients, visitors and staff.
Peter Reading, Chief Executive at the Trust, said: “We have thought about this long and hard as we know putting a smoking shelter up in hospital grounds is controversial. What we know is enforcing a no smoking policy across a large hospital site at Grimsby has proved very difficult indeed, especially near our busy entrances.
“We regularly receive complaints from patients, visitors and staff about having to walk through clouds of smoke when they come to the hospital, especially the young and vulnerable.
“We don’t face this problem as much at our other hospitals, in Scunthorpe and Goole, because it is not as far to walk for smokers to leave those sites.
“This decision doesn’t mean we condone smoking; far from it. We know our local population has some of the highest levels of smoking in the country, especially pregnant women.
“We need to recognise this and help everyone to get the support they need to help them quit. We’ll be putting information about his support into the shelter, which is supported by the local public health team in North East Lincolnshire, and giving the users details of who they can contact to get help.”
The Trust is taking part in the tobacco and alcohol commissioning for quality and innovation (CQUIN) scheme, which means that they will train staff to develop brief advice skills and offer a specialist referral to the stop smoking service.
In time the Trust is looking to screen all patients to see if they smoke and provide support and advice to help those who do.
According to the NHS, the scheme has the potential to reduce future hospital admissions and reduce the risk of a number of chronic conditions such as heart disease, stroke and cancer.
Stop smoking advice can be very effective when offered to every person admitted to hospital regardless of why they are admitted – those who received smoking cessation advice in hospital are more likely to have given up smoking after six months, and less likely to be readmitted to hospital for any cause after 30 days.
Peter added: “We want to encourage people in hospital (whether patients, visitors or staff) to stop smoking for good, as opposed to stopping them smoking on site only for them to continue smoking once they’ve left.”
In the coming months the Trust will be conducting a survey and review to help them understand more about the barriers to going smoke free, and what alternatives they can offer patients to help them quit while in hospital.