Patients offered free support to tackle tobacco addiction while in hospital

Date published: 16 August 2020

Patients across the boroughs of Rochdale, Oldham, Bury and Salford will be offered specialist support to manage tobacco addiction when they are admitted to hospital.

A comprehensive tobacco addiction treatment programme called the CURE Project is now being fully supported by hospitals run by the Northern Care Alliance NHS Group and began to be rolled out at The Royal Oldham, Rochdale Infirmary, Fairfield General Hospital and Salford Royal earlier this month.

Smoking tobacco is the single biggest cause of preventable death (one in two smokers die due to their smoking), illness, disability and social inequality in the United Kingdom. Stopping smoking is the single greatest thing that can be done to improve a smoker’s health now and in the future.

Acute hospitals see a concentrated population of smokers due to the illnesses caused by smoking meaning hospitals provide an opportunity to offer highly effective treatment and support for smokers to stop.

Anyone who is admitted to hospital within the NCA Group, who is identified as a smoker, will be referred to the dedicated Tobacco Addiction team. They will receive support and advice on managing their addiction and will be offered Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT) as well as other medications to manage their cravings during their hospital stay. They will also be signposted to ongoing treatment and support once they leave hospital.

Dr Pete Turkington, Salford Royal Chief Officer, Medical Director and respiratory consultant, said: “Living smoke-free improves your health and wellbeing and of course your wealth.

“Our group of hospitals under the NCA is committed to supporting our staff and patients whatever their decision; whether it’s simply abstaining while they are on our premises or whether they choose to use this as a positive opportunity to finally quit smoking for good.

“People should expect to come to hospital and for it to be a smoke-free environment, something we hope will soon become the social norm, just like it has become on a plane or in a pub or restaurant.”

The CURE project focuses on two key elements; medicalising tobacco addiction to empower all healthcare professionals to proactively commence treatment with all smokers they encounter and the provision of intensive behavioural change support through a team of highly expert stop smoking practitioners.

It was initially piloted at Wythenshawe Hospital in 2018 and initial results demonstrated high levels of screening for active smokers, high levels of stop smoking pharmacotherapy, high levels of engagement with intensive support with the CURE team and lead to just over one in five smokers admitted to hospital being abstinent from tobacco three months later.

The CURE Project has now become business as usual at Wythenshawe Hospital and offers treatment and support to all smokers across the hospital through a large team of nurses and advisors.

People who stop or don’t smoke greatly reduce their risk of developing preventable diseases and dying prematurely. Quitting smoking can also improve mental wellbeing.

Dr Turkington added: “We have a responsibility to protect our patients, visitors and staff from any danger or risks and there is no safe level of exposure to cigarette smoke.

“With everyone’s support we can ensure that all of our hospital sites become completely smoke-free for the benefit of everyone who is using them.”

Dr Matt Evison, Clinical Director of the Greater Manchester CURE Project, added: “This is a huge step forward for the project as we expand from the initial pilot to several acute hospital sites across a large healthcare organisation. Most importantly, it means a significantly higher number of smokers will have the opportunity to receive highly effective treatment and the support required to stop smoking.”

Delivering CURE is part of the Greater Manchester Health and Social Care Partnership’s Making Smoking History programme, which is taking a whole system approach to reduce smoking rates in Greater Manchester by a third to 13% by the end of 2021 and to 5% by 2027.

This is faster than any other major global city and would mean 115,000 fewer smokers by 2021.

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