Patients in Somerset hospitals can now get free support to stop smoking
Every year, 5,266 admissions to hospitals in Somerset are caused by smoking, and when asked, most of these patients say they would like to quit. To help these patients, and to improve the overall health of our county, Somerset NHS Foundation Trust and Yeovil District Hospital NHS Foundation Trust are together launching a free stop-smoking support package for patients admitted to hospital.
The package of support will be offered to any patients who smoke, who are admitted to Musgrove Park Hospital or Yeovil Hospital from this week, to coincide with the national No Smoking Day which takes place on Wednesday 8 March.
The trusts’ new team of tobacco reduction practitioners will meet patients who smoke once they are placed on a ward, and will help them to quit if they would like to. This includes 1-2-1 support, as well as access to medications or other preventative tools that can help the patient on their journey to quitting.
Patients can also continue to get support for up to 12 weeks after they are discharged from hospital, thanks to a partnership with Smokefree Life Somerset.
Martin Lever, the trusts’ tobacco reduction programme manager, said: “All of our sites in Somerset are smoke-free, to help us protect the health of everyone that uses or works within our many services – but this can be difficult for smokers when they are admitted to hospital.
“Smoking is an addiction, and it can get incredibly uncomfortable for someone who smokes when they are on the ward. At the very heart of what we do, is supporting patients as best we can during a difficult time – and we can also use the opportunity to help them to stop smoking or reduce the harm from tobacco, and improve their health outcomes in the future.”
The benefits of stopping smoking are almost instantaneous. Within 20 minutes of putting out your last cigarette, your heart rate and blood pressure drop back to normal. Fast forward to 2 weeks after your last cigarette, and your circulation and lung function improve – and if you quit fully, the risk of various disease and cancers drop significantly in the following years.
“As well as the health benefits of stopping smoking, there are also plenty of financial benefits too. The average smoker is able to save between £2,000-£4,000 a year if they quit – and with the current cost of living, we know how much that would help so many people.
“Smokers are three times more likely to quit with our support, so we are urging anyone who comes into hospital to take up the offer and to stop smoking. Of course, you don’t just need to come into hospital to get free support – Smokefree Life Somerset is available to any Somerset resident, to access at any time.”
As part of the programme to support smokers in Somerset, the tobacco reduction team has also partnered with Mums2Be Somerset, which provides advice to anyone who is pregnant and smokes, or families with babies or young children who are around smokers in the home.
Kate Beaumont, public health lead midwife for Somerset, is urging families to take up the offer of support. She said: “Around 10% of babies delivered in the county are born by pregnant smokers – bringing with it a wide range of potential complications and health impacts. Along with the tobacco reduction team at the two trusts’, we are highlighting that smoking is an addiction, and there is support available to help people with that.”
Within the national NHS Long-Term Plan, smoking is seen as a chronic, relapsing medical condition, not a lifestyle choice, requiring treatment just like any other disease or illness.
Stopping smoking is one of the best things people can do to improve their physical and mental health and wellbeing, and it also helps to reduce health inequalities, and increase life expectancy by reducing the burden of tobacco-related disease.