October is commonly known as “Stoptober,” a month when smokers are urged to extinguish their smoking habit, at least for the duration of the month.

Research has revealed that by refraining from smoking for 28 days, individuals significantly increase their chances of successfully quitting the habit permanently.

Here’s a look at two services from Gateshead Health NHS Foundation Trust, whose combined efforts are supporting staff, patients, and visitors to give up the habit. 

Gateshead Health has introduced a promising stop-smoking programme designed explicitly for NHS staff as part of the North East and North Cumbria ICB’s regional Staff Tobacco Dependency Offer. The QUIT team provides support for inpatients, those in ongoing care and pregnant people to support temporary abstinence or even a longer-term quit attempt throughout.

Since its implementation, the staff programme has been a great success, with Gateshead having the highest number of quit attempts from NHS staff in the first quarter of 2023 across the region. As a result, Gateshead Health NHS Foundation Trust has made this programme a permanent health and wellbeing service for its staff.

The Outpatient Pharmacy of the Trust collaborates with Gateshead Council to provide free support to staff who want to quit smoking. This support includes personalised behavioural guidance and access to free nicotine replacement therapy or vapes to aid a quit attempt.

“You work hard to care for your patients, and now it’s time to look after your own health. If you smoke, the most important thing you can do for yourself is to stop smoking.  Each time you make a quit attempt, you are getting closer to success.”

Dr Ruth Sharrock, the Respiratory Consultant and Clinical Lead for Tobacco Dependency at Gateshead Health, urges staff to prioritise their health by quitting smoking

Andrew Chikungwa, the Security Supervisor at Gateshead Health, shares his experience of quitting smoking with the support of the Outpatient Pharmacy service.

Andrew explains how his health has improved since quitting smoking.

In addition to supporting staff, outpatients, and visitors, the Trust’s inpatient and maternity QUIT team has significantly supported those admitted to hospital and expectant mothers and their families to reduce the harm from smoking by offering treatment for tobacco dependency.

Around 120 referrals are made to the QUIT team each month and around 70 of those referrals make a dedicated and supported quit attempt.

Support individuals receive from the QUIT team doesn’t just end following discharge. The team goes the extra mile by following up with the patient for up to 12 weeks afterwards to ensure that they are still on track. While it used to be common for 90% of people to fall off during these follow-up calls, the QUIT team’s dedication and support have helped reduce that number to an impressive 50%.

“We are extremely proud of what the QUIT team has achieved since launch. Our service started in March 2021 and during that time we have supported hundreds of patients and staff to become smoke free and live a healthier life.”

Barbara Lynam, Tobacco Dependency Treatment Service Lead

One of the key areas where the QUIT team has made a significant impact is in assisting expecting mothers and the Maternity team. Find out how the team is supporting pregnant smokers to quit.

In Great Britain, 58.4% of people aged 16 years and above who currently smoked said they wanted to quit and 61.3% of those who have ever smoked said they had quit, based on our estimates from the Opinions and Lifestyle Survey, carried out in 2018 by the Office for National Statistics.

It is encouraging to see that the average quit rate regionally in Gateshead is just over 50%, indicating that people are taking positive steps to improve their health and break free from the grip of smoking.

For further information about the service available to patients, staff, and visitors, and to find out how to get started, visit Outpatient Pharmacy (next door to Costa, situated inside the QE’s main foyer) or call 0191 445 8144. Anyone in the North East can access the SmokeFree app for free by visiting the Get Smoke Free website and entering their postcode when prompted. 

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