• Nikki Latham

Stop Smoking While In Hospital

A new team is aiming to support patients, and busy staff at Dorset hospitals to give up smoking,


Withdrawal from nicotine products can make patients additionally anxious and may lead to being disruptive on wards. The tobacco dependency team is made up of a specialist acute nurse, advisor and mental health nurse, supported by three healthcare assistants, to identify those who might benefit from professional support to give up, without the need of extra time from ward staff.

The team can prescribe nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) for free while in hospital, to offering behavioural support, information and guidance on ways to quit for good and lead healthier lives after their hospital stay.

Alex Szymanska is a tobacco dependency nurse specialist dedicated to UHD patients, and joine

d the team after two years nursing on the acute medical unit (AMU) at Royal Bournemouth.

“It’s really helpful to have experienced inpatient care here before I joined the team as I understand the frustrations and challenges that caring for someone with a tobacco dependency can cause. “I also understand it from the other side, that smoking is addictive and that being without cigarettes can prompt a range of reactions from patients, some of which are hard to manage. “Our job is to support our colleagues on the acute wards by providing expert support and advice to help patients struggling without their usual nicotine products to feel more settled while in hospital." Alex, who covers both Poole and Royal Bournemouth hospitals, is passionate about the benefits of a smoke-free lifestyle, and hopes that an enforced period of abstinence while in hospital could be the kickstart many patients need.

“While on AMU I trained as a stop smoking champion, and thought it was a really important issue. “It’s something that people have the power to change themselves, and improve their health outcome. “I would say that half of all patients I speak to really don’t know the full extent of the damage that smoking is doing to them.”

The tobacco dependency team is part of a Dorset Integrated Care System initiative to tackle smoking as part of the NHSE Long Term Plan, with specialist nurses. The service is also available to inpatients at Dorset County and Dorset Healthcare hospitals.

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