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NHS Still Failing on VBA Training

The NHS is still failing to deliver adequate smoking cessation advice training, and deliver that advice to patients, according to the British Thoracic Society and Action on Smoking and Health

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The NHS is still failing to deliver adequate smoking cessation advice training, and deliver that advice to patients, according to the British Thoracic Society (BTS) and Action on Smoking and Health (ASH). A new audit has found that less than 45% of smokers admitted to hospital receive smoking cessation guidance. Planet of the Vapes has been reporting on related concerns since 2019.

ASH chief executive Deborah Arnott said: “No one should give up on giving up. Every time someone tries to stop smoking, they are a step closer to success. Like anything worth doing it can take practice to stop smoking – but there is lots of help out there.

“Smokers are three times more likely to succeed in quitting with help from a trained professional than with willpower alone. Healthcare professionals can refer them to this support but smokers can also find their local free service by searching ‘smokefree’ and entering their postcode.”

Given that most smokers do not consider quitting until it is suggested to them, experts believe it is essential to deliver Very Brief Advice (VBA) when they come into contact with the health service.

In 2019, ASH issued advice to pharmacists on how to help smokers to stop smoking by delivering VBA. The move recognised that there was a shortfall in this area within the NHS.

In its 2021 report, the British Lung Foundation said the 30-second intervention should be delivered by all healthcare professionals in almost every consultation with a patient who smokes. It said all frontline practitioners should receive training in how to deliver VBA.

Sarah Woolnough, Chief Executive of Asthma UK and the British Lung Foundation, said: “I urge the NHS to treat tobacco dependency like it does all other life-threatening conditions, and ensure it’s doing all it can to effectively treat patients.

Later in 2021, an Asthma UK and the British Lung Foundation taskforce found that smoking cessation services were still being under resourced by the government and that only 15% of hospitals offered their outpatients reliable access to a stop smoking service.

The new BTS audit, released last week, shows that the government has made no inroads despite repeated recommendations: “Less than half of all smokers admitted to hospital are offered advice to quit”.

Dr Paul Walker, BTS Chair, commented: “Tackling tobacco dependence is fundamental to respiratory medicine and all respiratory professionals need to make every contact count, using that opportunity to offer advice and help to aid smokers to quit.

“As we begin to recover services post-COVID we need to ensure that all hospitalised smokers are offered advice and pharmacotherapy, rather than the minority who currently receive this. This requires a focus from frontline healthcare organisations on smoking cessation training which is essential to deliver this intervention."

Dave Cross avatar

Dave Cross

Journalist at POTV
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Dave is a freelance writer; with articles on music, motorbikes, football, pop-science, vaping and tobacco harm reduction in Sounds, Melody Maker, UBG, AWoL, Bike, When Saturday Comes, Vape News Magazine, and syndicated across the Johnston Press group. He was published in an anthology of “Greatest Football Writing”, but still believes this was a mistake. Dave contributes sketches to comedy shows and used to co-host a radio sketch show. He’s worked with numerous vape companies to develop content for their websites.

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