‘Stub it out’ – six months to go!

NHS sites and services across Bath and North East Somerset, Wiltshire and Swindon are preparing to become smoke free from 1 January 2019. 

In six months’ time staff, patients and visitors (including contractors and suppliers) will no longer be able to smoke anywhere on NHS sites, including the grounds and gardens or in vehicles and car parks.

All NHS providers across BaNES, Swindon and Wiltshire are committed to no tobacco use on site and many have already started to provide support to staff and patients to either stop smoking or manage their nicotine dependency while at work or during their stay in hospital.

Associate Director for Nursing and Quality at the Avon and Wiltshire Mental Health Partnership (AWP) NHS Trust, Alan Metherall, said: “Our trust became completely smoke free in November last year with all staff, service users, visitors and contractors no longer able to smoke or use tobacco products on any of our sites.

“We have focused on how best to support and assist our staff and service users to abstain from smoking and using tobacco products while at work or receiving treatment.

“Since the policy was introduced we have seen a number of positive outcomes. Many of our service users have been able to reduce the amount they smoke as well as their reliance on cigarettes during challenging periods. 

“We want to ensure that our staff and service users are as healthy as they possibly can be and we are training our staff to become Stop Smoking Practitioners so that they can support service users who wish to give up.

“In the coming months ahead we will be looking to work more closely with our community mental health teams to support all service users and to continue to support our inpatient services with their smoke free journey.”

Claire Radley, Director of People at the Royal United Hospitals Bath (RUH) NHS Foundation Trust said: “As a hospital, we have a responsibility to look after people’s health. Studies show 80% of second hand smoke is odourless and invisible, and those who breathe it are exposed to the same risks as smokers, including heart disease and cancers.

Going smokefree is the right thing to do to ensure those on our site are protected from second hand smoke.  We’re six months away from being completely smokefree, but our Healthy Choices Advisors are already in place and are busy supporting patients and staff, whether that’s providing help to quit smoking or ways to manage cravings whilst on site.”  

Charlie Revell, Health Improvement Practitioner at Salisbury District Hospital said: “The smoking cessation service for inpatients has received six times more patients than last year. As a result many more patients are consenting to follow up in the community by a factor of ten!”

Justin Wride, Health Improvement Service Manager, Virgin Care said: “A recent Smoke Free survey conducted by Virgin Care for the benefit of their colleagues, visitors, patients and suppliers reveals that 81% of people did not consider it acceptable to smoke on NHS sites “because of patients’ health” and “second hand smoke to patients” with most thinking it was a “good idea” and a “very positive step”. 

“We are now offering all our colleagues and patients stop smoking specialist support if they wish to quit and are regularly promoting the benefits of stopping smoking through social media, via team meetings, on-site promotional work and other internal communications. We believe this is a really important step to ensure that our sites are healthy environments for people to work in and to visit.

“For the six-month countdown we have really stepped up our social media and internal communications to ensure that everyone is aware of the Smoke free ‘Go-live’ date on the 1January 2019. It is really important to us that everyone feels supported and ready for this positive change.”    

The decision to become completely smoke free is in line with The Health Act (2006) and The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE 2013) guidelines which state that all hospital sites, including mental health hospitals, and sites where NHS services are provided, should be 100% smoke free.

Kevin McNamara, Director of Strategy and Community Services, Great Western Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust said: “The Smoke Free campaign is an excellent tool to highlight the benefits of stopping smoking and the importance of reducing the impact it has on health and the NHS.

“While the number of smokers has been declining, it still remains one of the leading causes of premature death in the UK. Stopping smoking not only saves lives, but also saves the NHS money too.”

For staff, patients and visitors who want to stop smoking before Tuesday 1 January 2019:

  • A range of information and support on how to stop smoking is available at nhs.uk/smokefree
  • Face to face advice on Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT) and or E-cigarettes is available from your local pharmacy, your GP surgery and local stop smoking services.