NHS smoking cessation transfer of care pilot from hospital to community pharmacy

NHS Community Pharmacies are a great place for patients to receive stop smoking advice. Through this pilot, hospitals will test the referral of patients to community pharmacy to continue the stop smoking journey they started in hospital.

This project aims to:

  • support patients who started a stop smoking programme in hospital to continue their journey in community pharmacy upon discharge
  • promote healthy behaviours to service users
  • test a community pharmacy model that can refer patients from hospital to pharmacy for ongoing stop smoking support

Smoking cessation and why it’s important

The NHS Long Term Plan focuses on the importance of preventing avoidable illness and more active management of the health of the population. Smoking cessation is specifically identified as a key service that can improve the prevention of avoidable illness. The plan suggests that existing smoking cessation services can be  expanded to further support patients who are looking to quit smoking, as well as those affected by second-hand smoke.

Smoking is one of the biggest avoidable causes of disease and premature death in the United Kingdom (Allender, 2009), and smoking-related illness puts a considerable strain on NHS resources. In 2015-16 there were 474,000 hospital admissions and 79,000 deaths caused by smoking, which cost the NHS £2.5 billion (Nice guideline NG92) . This service is a branch of the wider aim of supporting hospital patients to continue their stop smoking efforts after discharge, which is expected to increase 1-year quit rates by 11% and, when implemented, is expected to save the NHS “£85 million in healthcare resource use within 1 year” (Mullen, 2010; Royal College of Physicians, 2018).

Bridging the gap between secondary care smoking cessation services and those based in community pharmacy provides further support to the stop smoking campaign across the UK at a time when there is an increased need for patients to quit to protect their health. According to Action on Smoking Health, “smokers who are hospitalised with COVID-19 are more likely to suffer severe outcomes than non-smokers.” Since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic, over one million people in the UK have quit smoking, and another 440,000 have attempted to quit.

What the service will provide

A pharmacist or trained pharmacy team member will meet with the person stopping smoking or carry out consultations over the phone to discuss their quit progress. They will review the nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) or medication prescribed by the hospital team and make any necessary adjustments to support the continued quit attempt.

How people access the service

To access the service, people must:

  • Have been referred by a participating hospital
  • Have started a stop smoking programme in hospital and not completed before being discharged
  1. a carer or partner of someone who has started a stop smoking programme in hospital and not completed before being discharged can be supported through locally commissioned services

Community pharmacies must be in close proximity to one of the following hospitals in order to provide this pilot service. These areas include:

  • Oldham hospital, Greater Manchester
  • A further two areas are progressing and will be confirmed shortly

The first pilot area in Oldham went live in November 2020. The pilot will be evaluated, and the outputs will inform the potential inclusion of this service in the Community Pharmacy Contractual Framework for 2021/22.