The British Thoracic Society say more healthcare workers should be trained in how to help patients stop smoking
Less than half of smokers admitted to hospital are offered advice on how to quit, according to a new audit.
The British Thoracic Society (BTS) said that more healthcare workers should be trained in how to help patients stop smoking.
Preliminary findings from the society’s annual audit, which looked at 14,000 patient records across 120 UK hospitals during 2021, found that only 45% of smokers in hospital were recorded as having a brief chat with a healthcare worker about smoking cessation.
The BTS said that these brief conversations have been proven to inspire smokers to quit.
The audit also suggested that only half of NHS trusts were offering regular smoking cessation training to staff.
Professor Sanjay Agrawal, national specialty adviser for tobacco addiction, said: “The BTS audit findings demonstrate the considerable opportunity to screen and treat tobacco dependency across the NHS.”
Dr Paul Walker, BTS chair, added: “Tackling tobacco dependence is fundamental to respiratory medicine and all respiratory professionals need to make every contact count, using that opportunity to offer advice and help to aid smokers to quit.
“As we begin to recover services post-Covid we need to ensure that all hospitalised smokers are offered advice and pharmacotherapy, rather than the minority who currently receive this.
“This requires a focus from frontline healthcare organisations on smoking cessation training which is essential to deliver this intervention.”
It comes as Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) released new data showing that 42% of smokers expect to get advice about quitting every time they visit the GP.
The survey of 602 British smokers also found that 28% believe such advice would prompt them to make an attempt to quit, according to the poll released to mark No Smoking Day.
ASH chief executive Deborah Arnott said: “No one should give up on giving up. Every time someone tries to stop smoking, they are a step closer to success. Like anything worth doing it can take practice to stop smoking – but there is lots of help out there.
“Smokers are three times more likely to succeed in quitting with help from a trained professional than with willpower alone. Healthcare professionals can refer them to this support but smokers can also find their local free service by searching ‘smokefree’ and entering their postcode.”
It comes as a major new drive from the NHS encourages patients to seek support to stop smoking from their local pharmacy.
The NHS said that every pharmacy in England will be able to offer stop smoking support to patients when they are discharged from hospital.
It means that smokers who are admitted to hospital and encouraged to quit can get help from their nearest chemist.
People will be able to make three face-to-face appointments with a pharmacist and receive stop-smoking supplies for free.
The move follows a pilot scheme in Oldham, Greater Manchester, where three in five people who utilised the service successfully quit.
Dr Bola Owolabi, director of health inequalities for the NHS in England, said: “Leaving hospital is a good incentive for people to quit smoking – and NHS pharmacies will be on their local high street with advice, support and treatment to help them stub out the dangerous habit once and for all.”