Over 200 NHS staff sign up to the QE’s regional pilot to help staff stop smoking

A QE-based team are leading a regional project to deliver stop smoking support to NHS colleagues across the North East and North Cumbria, having successfully won a bid from NHS England to deliver the programme.

As part of the initiative, staff at all NHS Foundation Trusts in the North East will qualify for free nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) products. Alternatively they can request a refillable E-Cigarette package, with both support options available free of charge over a period of 12 weeks.

Caitlin Barry, Project Manager for the campaign, shares: “Our Research and Development teams have worked on several projects which support smokers to quit, building a skillset and passion to deliver better access to stop smoking services across all groups. We have been afforded a tremendous opportunity to help our colleagues across the region with this particular programme.”

Colleagues who work in North East and North Cumbria (NENC) Integrated Care System (ICS) NHS Trusts can now apply to receive the support. Uptake so far has been incredible, with over 200 colleagues signing up to a quit attempt for 2022. Interested staff are encouraged to apply quickly, with places limited per trust.

A dedicated support team, based out of the QE Hospital, will be available to all that sign up. Interaction with the team is non-compulsory but encouraged. This team will be able to answer questions, offer guidance and provide motivational support. Those who have attempted to quit before and struggled needn’t worry – the team are here to help.

Half of all smokers die prematurely because of their tobacco dependency. As a workplace, Gateshead aims to do whatever it can to support the health and wellbeing of its staff and reduce this risk. The Trust is proud to be leading an effort that can make a tangible difference to NHS colleagues across the entire NENC region.

Dr Ruth Sharrock, Consultant Respiratory Physician and Clinical Lead for Treating Tobacco Dependency on behalf of Prevention Board/ICS NENC, explains: “The NHS is under unprecedented strain at present, and our colleagues in all trusts are working harder than ever. It is absolutely vital that employers and systems do whatever we can to help look after each other. Helping colleagues who smoke to stop is the most important thing we can do to improve their health; mental and physical, and improve their finances.”

Caitlin adds: “The Smokefree staff team are here to help. We know that most smokers want to quit but lack the confidence to do so, or haven’t tried to access the help that is available. We would encourage any one considering stopping smoking to get in touch for a chat, we can advise and guide – we want to help.”

“Smoking prevalence tends to be highest in our manual occupations – roles like drivers, porters, domestic and canteen staff. These colleagues work so hard for the NHS, so it’s all the more important this offer reaches them as well as our frontline staff. In that regard, I’d call on all reading to consider any colleagues you know that smoke too – and to share this offer with them.

“Whatever your role, we want to help you be healthier. We want to help you boost your finances, and create a smoke-free environment for future generations.

“The offer is open to all who are employed by an NHS Foundation Trust in the NENC region, as well as any subcontractors who work on main hospital sites. Once we process an application, we’ll deliver to your home or a hub at your hospital. Our team will then be on hand for to deliver any behavioural support desired throughout, too.”

If you’re an NHS staff member in the NENC ICS, you can make an application to receive free stop smoking support now. Those struggling with IT can also call or text 07980 696 259 or email [email protected].