BTS releases preliminary results of tobacco dependency services audit

Wednesday, March 9, 2022

The British Thoracic Society has released preliminary data from their audit of tobacco dependency treatment services in acute care trusts, the third of its kind, previously known as the "Smoking Cessation Audit" in 2016 and 2019.

According to these results, only 45% of smokers in hospitals received Very Brief Advice (VBA), a short conversation in which healthcare practitioners ask if a patient smokes, advise on how they could stop and offer help to do so, and only 50% of trusts were offering frontline healthcare staff regular smoking cessation training.

VBA is an important intervention, simple and cost-effective, which has proven to encourage quit attempts among patients who smoke.

Professor Sanjay Agrawal, National Specialty Adviser for tobacco addiction, commented:

The BTS audit findings demonstrate the considerable opportunity to screen and treat tobacco dependency across the NHS.

The NHS Long Term Plan is committing significant resource to put in place tobacco dependency treatment services across hospitals, maternity and community mental health services by 2023-24, that will lead to the systematic identification and treatment of tobacco dependency. We look forward to working with BTS and other partners on this programme of work to improve lung health and reduce health inequalities.”

To help fulfil the ambition of the Long Term Plan of providing every smoker in hospital help with quitting, the British Thoracic Society has launched a programme to support healthcare professionals to set up and run a successful tobacco dependence treatment service in their hospitals.”

The Audit also found that pharmacotherapy (nicotine replacement therapy and addiction-breaking drugs) was offered to patients that smoked only in about a third of cases (33%), and ended on the positive note that the number of people who smoke admitted to hospital reduced from 24% in 2019 to 21% in 2021.

To support clinicians establishing tobacco dependence treatment services, the British Thoracic Society has launched the Tobacco Dependency Project on the pages of Respiratory Futures. The Project provides practical step by step guides, webinars, good practice examples and other educational material to help clinicians to plan and deliver a comprehensive tobacco dependence service.