Portsmouth Smokers Could Be Refused Surgery

Health bosses in Portsmouth are stepping up their efforts to get more peope to give up smoking.

Cigarette smoke contains more than 4,000 chemicals, and health experts say a patient who smokes is at much greater risk of anaesthetic complications during surgery as well as infections to surgical wounds after their operation.

Around 11,000 preople in the Portsmouth area who smoke are referred to hospital for non-urgent operations a year.

GPs and other health professionals will ask patients if they smoke, record their answer, and if they do smoke advise the patient of the personal and surgical benefits of quitting.

They will refer smokers who may need surgery to local NHS Stop Smoking Services.

The NHS says GPs can still refer patients to hospital who refuse 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.

Dr Paul Edmondson-Jones, Director of Public Health for NHS Portsmouth, said:

"This initiative aims to provide a systematic, coherent and co-ordinated approach amongst all health professionals to support people to quit smoking before surgery.

"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.

"Patients will be offered support to quit smoking before referral, and the referral will take place once the smoking cessation intervention has taken place.

"This could potentially mean that some patients who smoke may not get their operation as early as they would if they didn't smoke or were trying to quit smoking."

Dr Ruth Milton, Director of Public Health for NHS Hampshire, said:

"We know that many smokers do want to give up, and we know that many who attend smoking cessation services do successfully quit. So we want to give them that extra incentive to take that difficult first step.

"NHS Portsmouth and NHS Hampshire, as the area's two primary care trusts (PCTs), commission specialist stop smoking support services for patients across Portsmouth and Hampshire; Pompey Quit and Quit4Life.

"Specialist stop smoking services enjoy a terrific record of working with their clients of 60% to 70%. Support for stop smoking is offered in various ways including specialist clinics, many GP surgeries and some pharmacies."

The NHS says GPs will continue to immediately refer any patient who needs urgent care.

A patient's question/answer sheet on the initiative is available on the NHS Portsmouth website www.portsmouth.nhs.uk/Your-Health/Help-stopping-smoking.htm