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NHS hospitals to pilot proactive approach to smoking cessation

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The Department of Health will this week launch a new proactive smoking cessation pilot scheme at 35 hospitals in England.

The aim is to increase the number of patients receiving ‘effective and timely stop smoking advice when in hospital’.

Hospitals in the pilot scheme will have to identify every smoker admitted and ensure they are offered support to quit, with care pathways for brief interventions and referrals to NHS Stop Smoking Services. A ‘hospital champion’ to act as a link person for all stop smoking activity must also be appointed.

If referrals to NHS Stop Smoking Services are successfully increased, the approach will be rolled out to further hospitals in November or December. 

The pilot builds on evidence, a Cochrane Review published in 2007, that stop smoking programmes that begin during a hospital stay and include follow-up support for at least one month after discharge are effective.

A similar programme to identify and treat all smokers admitted to the University of Ottawa Heart Institute, in Canada, between April 2003 and March 2004 found that 44% of smokers identified at admission were smokefree six months later.

If rolled out nationally, the scheme would be the world’s first national standardisation of stop smoking interventions in secondary care.

The pilot is due to be launched at the UK National Smoking Cessation Conference in London.

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