Gloucestershire NHS Stop Smoking Service (left to right): Bev Turner, Sharon Hayes, Marie Scheidel, Sian Trehearne, Chris Miles, Elaine Watson, Debbie Mansfield, Jo Glasscock, Debbie Crebbin, Mary Conway, Judith Whittle, Cindy Ferneyhough
In spite of a drop in referrals from maternity services (from 784 in 2013/14 to 619 in 2014/15), Gloucestershire NHS Stop Smoking Service saw a 5 per cent increase in the proportion of pregnant women accepting the service and a 9 per cent rise in the proportion of women attending at least one session (from 52 per cent to 61 per cent). The quit rate also rose by 9 per cent in 2014/2015, with 213 women quitting compared with 238 the previous year.
The service delivers success consistently: it exceeded its target for the number of pregnant four-week quitters by 22 per cent in 2013/2014, hit its target eight weeks early this year, and over the last decade has supported over 43,000 people to quit.
The service follows clients from referral, through their quit attempt and in some cases through to the birth of a baby, to minimise the risk of them relapsing. New clients are contacted within 48 hours of referral and the service guarantees that it will make at least three attempts to contact clients over several days in a range of ways: telephone, text messages and finally a letter. The service is available seven days a week, including outside office hours in the week and at weekends, which increases the likelihood of clients accessing support.
Clients are offered a choice of venues for appointments, including clinics in antenatal departments, which may be the most convenient for the women. Having a physical presence in antenatal clinics also develops relationships with consultants and midwives, so much so that advisors are seen as part of the midwifery team.
Judge Rachael Murray, a lecturer in tobacco control interventions at Nottingham University, said: ‘Gloucestershire make the service accessible, reaching out to the wider healthcare community to engage, achieving high quit rates’.
Fellow judge, Michael Walsh, a pharmacist from Northern Ireland and last year’s winner of the individual award, was ‘very impressed’ with the performance figures and speed of referrals.