Smokers who are admitted to Poole Hospital’s acute medical unit (AMU) are to be encouraged to ditch the habit.
It is estimated that offering patients smoking cessation support in hospital could help reduce the 1,000 deaths and £3.5m cost to the NHS in Dorset each year.
The initiative is part of a wider plan to encourage smokers to quit in all hospitals across the county, supported by Public Health Dorset, and reduce smoking rates in the county from 13.6 per cent of the adult population now, to five per cent by 2030.
At the AMU at Poole Hospital, all patients will be offered a carbon monoxide test and nicotine replacement therapy, for example gum or patches, to treat nicotine withdrawal while in hospital. Staff will receive special training on how to support patients withdrawing from nicotine, and in motivational and behavioural support.
And when a patient leaves the hospital, further support will be available through community smoking cessation services to help patients quit and stay quit.
Heidi Croucher, specialist midwife for smoking cessation, is leading the pan-Dorset work on behalf of Public Health Dorset, University Hospitals Dorset, Dorset County Hospital and Dorset HealthCare.
She said, “Smoking should no longer been seen as a lifestyle choice but as an illness.
“The effects of smoking reach almost every aspect of the NHS, from breathing difficulties in children to lung cancer, stroke, heart disease and low birth weights for new-borns.
“As health professionals we can all take steps to support our patients to lead healthier lives”.
With approaching 500,000 hospital admissions in the UK every year resulting in some way from smoking, the habit has a huge effect on patients and on health services.
While the risks are widely known, around 14 per cent of the adult population in the UK smokes. Estimates vary on the cost to the NHS of treating smoking-related conditions, with the charity Action on Smoking and Health putting a £2bn annual figure.
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