Leeds Community Healthcare NHS Trust (left to right): Julie Clarkson and Sandra Davis
As in most UK prisons 80 per cent of the inmates of Wealstun Prison in Leeds are smokers. Prisoners are one of the toughest client groups. The challenges facing stop smoking advisors are also pretty stark; access to prisoners is limited, boredom of prison life encourages smoking, would-be quitters experience pressure from other prisoners to continue smoking, some prisoners may sell treatment, many prisoners do not attend support sessions and some are disruptive during sessions.
Faced with 130 prisoners wanting to quit and a 35-week waiting list, Leeds Community Healthcare NHS Trust (Prison Service) asked prisoners and staff to design a bespoke stop smoking programme. The number of sessions has been doubled, and the number of prisoners accommodated in sessions has been increased from 10 to 15.
Incentives and rewards are offered to prisoners who join the sessions and successfully quit. Prisoners who join the programme are able to use the prison gym, and advisors are able to give out puzzles, mints, stress balls and toothbrushes at four weeks quit, to help tackle the boredom of prison and sustain the quit. Approximately 55-60 per cent of prisoners referred hit the four-week quit.
Judge, The Advisor columnist Michael Walsh, said: ‘I was impressed that by changing the model, and involving staff and prisoners, this team were able to increase capacity and significantly reduce waiting times.’