Q: What issue was facing your organisation?
A 2009 NHS Workforce Health and Wellbeing Review found that across the NHS 25% of staff reported smoking some of the time, with around 20% smoking up to ten cigarettes or cigars a day. A small minority smoked over 21 per day. This survey also found that smokers had up to a 34% higher incidence of being absent from work compared to non-smokers.
As part of a wider project to help staff across our four partner organisations improve their health and wellbeing in the workplace, we sought to help our staff quit smoking, and equip them to better support their colleagues and patients who also wanted to stop smoking.
Q: What action did your organisation take?
We set up a quit scheme, open to all of our 36,000 staff. It ran from April 2012 to April 2014. The scheme operated across all four of our KHP partner organisations: Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust (GSTT), King’s College Hospital NHS Foundation Trust (KCH), South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust (SLaM) and King’s College London (KCL).
A stop smoking specialist was appointed to set up and run the clinics. Five weekly clinics were held on each of the sites to help staff. The clinics used the evidence-based National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) approved model for helping people to give up smoking, but with built-in flexibility – those who needed extra support were given more pre-quit time and could continue on the course for longer.
Clients were offered treatment for six weeks or more if needed, and were seen on a weekly basis. Behavioural support therapy was offered in combination with pharmacotherapy (nicotine replacement therapy, Champix or Zyban).
Clinic attendees were given a voucher which they could cash in for nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) at the hospital pharmacy, which meant staff had free and easy access to NRT.
At KCH, SLaM and KCL the clinics were promoted to all staff, including administrative, nursing and managerial level smokers. At GSTT the clinics were focused on non-clinical staff working in estates and facilities. King’s Health Partners stop smoking specialist introduced herself at the porters’ team meetings and used an office nearby in order to be seen. She also used the porters’ tea/breakout facilities to get her face known and build up relationships.
The scheme was advertised to staff in different ways across the different sites. At SLaM, a twitter Q&A session was held. At KCH, some staff were referred through occupational health. Regular health promotion stands highlighted the scheme, and all the sites made use of posters and the NHS intranet system.
An important part of this project was that staff from any of the organisations could use the clinics, regardless of whether they belonged to that organisation. For example, King’s staff based on the Guy’s campus could use the Guy’s staff clinic. This made a real difference in terms of increased access for staff.
The main challenges were around timing, as many nurses struggled to be released from shifts due to the nature of their work.
Q: What has been the impact of implementing health interventions?
The quit rate across the four sites was 64%. The Health and Social Care Information Centre’s statistics on NHS Stop Smoking Services shows that just over half (51%) of people who set a quit date, successfully quit between 2013-2014 highlighting King’s Health Partners’ success.
Service users’ feedback:
“Excellent service. Would recommend it to anybody considering, or even half considering, giving up smoking as the advice on use of the range of NRT available was excellent. The counsellor was extremely motivating and kept me on track.”
“To date, I have gone from 20 a day to not smoking for 7 weeks. This service is fantastic!”
“This was a really good service. I liked that it was based at my workplace so the appointments were easy to make.”