The QEF Outpatient Pharmacy is at the forefront of tackling smoking in our region. The Smoking Cessation programme was first introduced in November 2020, where it started with just 2 members of staff. Since then the programme has been such a success that the department now has 6 dedicated advisors and have even been involved in a national pilot to encourage NHS staff members to quit smoking.
The programme has always been open to members of public, staff and our outpatient’s at the Queen Elizabeth. Although the team experienced high levels of successful quit attempts they still felt like they could do more. At the start of 2022 the pharmacy decided to change how the trust as a whole approached referring outpatients for stop smoking support. Through collaborative work with the council, they developed signage that challenged how health professionals thought about the referral process. Encouraging them to refer every patient who was a smoker instead of only those who presented with smoking related illness. The thought behind the plan was that they wanted to reach patients before their smoking habits caused them ill health, not only to try and prevent the patients from inevitable harm but to also relieve pressures from the NHS. To accompany the posters, referral pads where also supplied in all outpatients departments to make the process efficient for the care team and simple for the patient.
“Since implementing the outpatient referral pathway we have received great feedback and an increase in voluntarily lead cessation sign ups. We want our patients to understand the achievement they could gain when quitting smoking and having the backing of a doctor as well as our advisors, helps gain their trust and increases motivation.” - Alice Jennings Specialist Technician and Lead for the Outpatient Smoking Cessation Programme.
In community settings majority of the patients are actively seeking to quit, whereas the client base for the QEF team are largely referred by healthcare providers meaning that majority of them don’t want to quit when they are first signed up. It speaks volumes of the team's dedication that their average quit rate is 57.4% which is higher than the average quit rate in Gateshead as a whole (48.7%). The team are supporting 1 in 5 quit attempts across Gateshead on average.