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Smokers in Portsmouth made a record number of successful attempts to quit their habit last year.
New figures released today by NHS Portsmouth, the city's primary care trust (PCT), show that for the first time there were more than 3,000 successful quits across the city.
Under national guidelines, smokers who give us their habit for four weeks are deemed to be quitters.
Last year, Portsmouth recorded 3,060 quits – 14% more than its target total of 2,668.
A big part of the success is due to the PCT bringing in an independent provider, Solutions4Health, to do extra smoking cessation work in the city, particularly to support the local black and minority ethnic population.
GPs and Portsmouth's network of community pharmacies, in particular the award-winning Healthy Living Pharmacy project*, are also credited with making major contributions to the improved performance through their work with smokers.
The figures are a boost to the local NHS – just over a week before the introduction of a major initiative in which smokers throughout the Portsmouth and south east Hampshire area will be urged to quit smoking before they are referred for a wide range of non-urgent operations.
From 1 July, GPs and other health professionals who are considering referring patients for non-urgent surgery, will ask them if they smoke, record their answer, and if they do smoke advise the patient of the personal and benefits of quitting before their operation.
They will refer smokers who may need surgery to local NHS Stop Smoking Services. Pompey Quit has a particularly high success rate (70%) with supporting people to quit.
GPs can still refer patients to hospital who decline to give up smoking, but the hospital clinician may refer the patient back to the GP for further help to quit if the surgeon feels the risks of smoking outweigh the benefit of the operation.
Patients who smoke are at much greater risk of anaesthetic complications during surgery as well as infections to surgical wounds after their operation.
Dr Paul Edmondson-Jones, Director of Public Health for NHS Portsmouth, said:
"I'm delighted by the news that we have achieved 14% above our target of successful quitters.
"It is estimated that we must have at least 6% of your smoking population as quitters to have a serious impact on smoking prevalence and the fact that we are running at 6.7% is highly encouraging – particularly as these figures only relate to people who have quit with the help of NHS services.
"If 27% of our population smokes, as we believe to be the case, we have about 45,600 smokers in Portsmouth. We're working extremely hard to reduce this figure in a number of ways, including the Fitness for Surgery initiative. There is clear medical evidence that to stop smoking before having an operation is good for your health and can improve the chances of your operation being successful."