More action to tackle women smoking in pregnancy in Yorkshire


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  • Around 9,000 women continue to smoke while pregnant, with rates for smoking in pregnancy varying from 11% to 23.5%
  • Every year 62,000 people in the Yorkshire and Humber end up in hospital due to smoking attributable conditions
  • One in every four patients in hospital are smokers
  • Through the CQUIN scheme, from 2018 additional funding will be available to acute NHS providers that achieve targets for delivery of quit advice
  • Giving ‘Very Brief Advice’ to patients and offering them stop smoking medication makes them 68% more likely to quit
  • Move to improve consistency and impact of stop smoking support for pregnant women

Midwives and clinicians from hospitals and clinical commissioning groups across Yorkshire and the Humber, health visitors, public health experts, stop smoking and behaviour change specialists meet in Leeds on Tuesday 7th November in a move to tackle persistently high smoking in pregnancy rates in the region.

It’s the culmination of months of joint work aimed at improving the consistency and impact of stop smoking support for pregnant women.

The symposium has been arranged by the NHS Yorkshire and Humber maternity clinical network, Public Health England and the Yorkshire and Humber Association of Directors of Public Health.

It coincides with a call from Public Health England for NHS frontline staff across England to take advantage of free online training that can help them deliver effective stop smoking advice to all patients who smoke.

The latest figures show the burden to the NHS in England from smoking is £2.6 billion[i]. There is an urgent need across all parts of the NHS to support people to quit to improve the health of local populations and help secure the sustainability of the NHS. Each patient referred to stop smoking services and prescribed nicotine replacement therapy saves the NHS £13.00 each year for four years.[ii]

NHS England is investing almost £600m in Commissioning for Quality and Innovation (CQUIN) schemes, including one which focuses on identifying and supporting people who smoke or who drink alcohol at higher risk levels. Under the scheme, additional funding is being made available to hospitals that help their patients to quit smoking.

PHE is encouraging healthcare staff to undertake a 30 minute online course, provided by the National Centre for Smoking Cessation and Training, based around short film clips providing examples of how very brief advice can be delivered to patients; including key facts, figures and messages.

When healthcare professionals discuss smoking with patients and combine this with the offer of stop smoking medication, the likelihood of quitting is 68% higher compared with no advice.[iii]

Dr Sarah Winfield, Clinical Lead for the Yorkshire and the Humber Maternity Clinical Network says: “Smoking is the single modifiable behaviour in pregnancy that could change the outcome for mum and baby in relation to stillbirth.  

“Organisations across Yorkshire and the Humber are coming together to agree consistent practice and reduce current variation in services that support women to stop smoking in pregnancy. “

Corinne Harvey, from PHE in Yorkshire and the Humber comments: “Smokers respond well to healthcare staff giving advice; a truly smokefree NHS is about healthcare staff leading by example and doing all they can to encourage patients, visitors and colleagues who smoke, to stop.

“There’s easily accessible and effective training to help make that happen. We’re seeing record breaking successful quit rates this year. Most smokers want to quit and all healthcare staff should seize the moment and be ready to intervene and have that crucial chat about smoking.”

There has never been a better time for people to quit and for healthcare professionals to discuss quitting with their patients. The ban on attractive branding on packs, together with better and more quitting options including e-cigarettes, stricter controls on smoking in public and supportive campaigns like PHE’s Stoptober, have all contributed to a rise in the number of smokers making an attempt to quit and success rates also increasing.

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