UK Audit Reports Drop in Smoking Cessation Referrals in Hospitals
A audit of over 14 000 patient records found that the percentage of smoking cessation referrals in hospitals has dropped from 44% in 2019 to 40% in 2021.
Conducted by the British Thoracic Society, the national audit consisted of 120 acute care hospitals in the UK between July and August 2021 and looked into whether cigarette dependency issues were being addressed as per standards.
The compiled data indicated that less than half (45%) of the smoking patients were provided with brief advice on quitting, while less than a 10th (9%) were actually seen by a tobacco dependency specialist during their stay. Moreover, only one in 20 (5%) were provided with the interventions as recommended by the UK National Institute for Health and Care Excellence, such as nicotine replacement therapies such as patches, vaping products or smoking cessation drugs such as varenicline.
Less patients referred to a hospital based smoking cessation services
Some improvements reported by the audit included that the actual number of smokers admitted to hospital had declined slightly from 24% of acute care patients in 2019 to 21% in 2021. While one in seven smoking patients (15%) were referred to a hospital or community based smoking cessation services, in comparison to one in eight (12%) in 2019 and one in 12 (8%) in 2016.
“The findings of this audit are stark, but the NHS has been under unprecedented strain since we ran the previous audit, which might go some way to explain a slower than expected progress on its commitment to patients who smoke,” said British Thoracic Society chair Paul Walker.
“To fulfil the ambition of the Long Term Plan in smoking cessation we need enough of the right staff to set up and run tobacco dependence services. It is clear for all to see, though, how success here hinges on a national, long term workforce planning exercise.”