More than 200 NHS staff have become ‘QUIT Champions’ as part of their role to help hospital patients and staff give up smoking.
Smoking is the largest preventable cause of cancer worldwide and evidence shows that smokers are more likely to stop smoking successfully with support.
The QUIT Programme, which has the potential to save up to 2,000 lives and 4,000 hospital readmissions a year, is transforming the way smoking is tackled by the NHS in the region, with hospital staff recognising it as a treatable addiction – not a lifestyle choice.
All patients who smoke attending any hospital in eight NHS Trusts in South Yorkshire and Bassetlaw are now being offered nicotine replacement medication and specialist support as part of their routine hospital care.
This support is being delivered by teams of Tobacco Treatment Advisers who have been funded by Yorkshire Cancer Research. They are now being supported by the 222 QUIT Champions to encourage hospital patients and staff to give up smoking.
The QUIT Champions support smokers to quit, highlighting the health benefits of stopping and encourage them to take advantage of the support offered by the innovative Programme. Patients are then referred for ongoing support with the Tobacco Treatment Advisors as part of routine care during their time in hospital.
Stephanie Willey, a QUIT champion, said: “I am very proud to volunteer for the QUIT programme. It has been so rewarding to see people who have smoked for many years taking advantage of the support on offer.
“Whether patients are in hospital for smoking-related reasons or not, it is a great time to think about giving up and the support doesn’t stop when they leave as we have excellent links with community stop smoking services across the region.”
QUIT is being delivered by South Yorkshire and Bassetlaw Integrated Care System (SYB ICS) in partnership with Yorkshire Cancer Research, five local authorities and local Stop Smoking Services.
Community-based stop smoking services will play a key role, ensuring nicotine replacement medication and support is continued after patients leave hospital to give them the best chance of beating their tobacco addiction.
On average, 16 per cent of people living in South Yorkshire and Bassetlaw smoke compared to the national average of 13.9 per cent. That’s nearly 200,000 people – and more than half of those will die prematurely from smoking-related illness, losing on average 10 years of life. It is estimated that 1,350 cancers diagnosed in South Yorkshire every year are caused by smoking.
QUIT Programme Director Dr Richard Jenkins said: “It is great to see that so many people are now championing the QUIT programme as its success depends on people working within hospital wards educating and encouraging patients and staff to take up the support on offer.
“This initial success is just the start, and we hope to appoint more QUIT champions and encourage many more smokers across South Yorkshire and Bassetlaw to give up over the coming months.”
Dr Kathryn Scott, Chief Executive at Yorkshire Cancer Research, said: “With the support of champions across the NHS in South Yorkshire, the QUIT Programme will reach huge numbers of people in the region with the help they need to stop smoking for good, reducing their risk of premature death from a wide range of smoking-related cancers and saving countless families from distress and heartbreak.”
Find out more on the QUIT website