The smoke-free countdown has begun

In line with NICE guidelines, we are now in our final stages of preparation and planning to become a smoke-free Trust 9 March.

In line with NICE guidelines, we are now in our final stages of preparation and planning to become a smoke-free Trust 9 March.

The smoke-free plans will see all of our sites, including in-patient gardens and courtyards become totally smoke-free, meaning service user’s, staff and visitors will no longer be able to smoke tobacco on any of our premises.

We have put a comprehensive support programme in place to offer guidance on stopping smoking and alternatives available, including nicotine replacement therapy.

To date 1188 of our frontline staff have been trained to provide brief advice for anyone admitted to one of our sites. Over 200 members of staff are also undergoing training at a higher level in order to be able to offer anyone admitted to or already on one of our Trust sites a comprehensive assessment and provide them with nicotine management support. Our smoke-free champions will also act as a point of contact for staff regarding our smoke-free agenda and will support our smoke-free initiatives.

We have been working on the plans for a year, following the publication of NICE recommendations and guidelines. The guidelines highlight high smoking rates and lower life expectancy rates amongst those living with mental health problems and require all mental health providers to become smoke free.

Dr Nick Land, medical director and chair of the Trust smoking cessation programme said: “Although life expectancy has improved for the general population since the 1950’s it hasn’t for those with significant mental health problems. People with mental health problems are dying 15-20 years earlier than the general population and half of this difference in mortality is down to smoking. We have a duty of care to our service users and by going smoke-free we aim to significantly increase their physical and mental health, as well as their life expectancy.

“We have worked tirelessly over the last year to put everything in place to ensure the transition to smoke-free is as smooth as possible. We have consulted with service user’s and staff at various levels to get their views regarding the best way the Trust can go smoke-free and our service user and carer engagement event held in November was well attended and provided valuable feedback.”

A range of staff and patient information literature will soon be available and we will be hosting information stands at key sites across the Trust at the beginning of March.We are also working in partnership with Northumberland, Tyne and Wear NHS Foundation Trust (NTW) to develop and implement our smoke-free plans and both Trusts will officially go smoke-free together on 9 March.