Monday 4 July is American Independence Day – and North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust is declaring it ‘independence from smoking day’ as its new tobacco dependency service hits the wards.
All patients admitted to the emergency assessment unit who smoke will be offered bespoke support to manage their cravings while under the Trust’s care.
In conjunction with the ward’s medical staff, trained tobacco dependency team members will prescribe nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) and provide support with practical tips to beat the need for nicotine.
Special care will be taken to ensure the NRT does not conflict with any other medication prescribed on the ward.
However, the tobacco dependency team support does not end there. On discharge, the patient will be provided with two-weeks’ worth of NRT and, if they agree, a referral to a local community organisation who can provide ongoing support.
Julie Bardsley, tobacco dependency specialist lead, said: “Smoking is a disease, not a lifestyle choice.
“There are too many smokers in Stockton and Hartlepool and we want to help them. Smoking does not contribute anything positive towards anyone’s health. Its impact is entirely negative.
“We will be offering helpful, non-judgmental support to smokers who are admitted to our hospitals.
“All the research shows that smokers who are supported in their attempt to quit are much more successful.
“We are ready to get onto the ward and help our patients in every way possible.”
The tobacco dependency team is being soft-launched in the emergency assessment unit and will be rolled out across the Trust in the future. Staff will be able to access specialist training from the tobacco dependency team to be able to have more effective interventions with patients who smoke.
The average rate of smoking in the UK is 14% of the population but in Stockton-on-Tees it is 16% and in Hartlepool it is 18%. Being so far above the national average is a major contributor to health inequalities in the region.
The tobacco dependency team is the Trust’s key service in playing its part in meeting the government’s aims of the UK being smoke-free by 2030.