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Press release
Tuesday 24 October 2023

Hospital trust signs pledge to become smoke free

Health leaders at University Hospital Southampton (UHS) have signed an NHS pledge for the organisation to become a smoke-free site.

Chief executive officer David French, chair Jenni Douglas-Todd and chief medical officer Paul Grundy signed the national pledge committing the Trust to be smoke-free by April next year.

Coinciding with Stoptober, the national public health campaign aimed at encouraging smokers to quit, the organisation will begin implementing a series of measures so that patients, staff and visitors do not smoke whilst on UHS sites and have the support they need to live smoke-free lives.

There are around 500,000 hospital admissions in the UK each year that are linked to smoking – with smokers 36 per cent more likely to be admitted than non-smokers. 

The Trust has already successfully introduced an in-house smoking cessation service where all inpatients who are smokers are referred to on admission.

The service provides nicotine replacement therapies and other support to help patients remain smoke-free during their stay. Since it was piloted in September 2022, 53 per cent of people who have used the service have continued to be smoke-free following their discharge home.

Significant investment has also been made in maternity care with midwives undergoing extra training to support expectant parents who smoke.

Support services for staff are being stepped up with a series of events being held by the occupational health team to raise the visibility of support on offer to staff to help them quit through an in-house programme.

Meanwhile, work will begin this month across the estate with the phased removal of shelters used by smokers. Improved signage directing people to support on offer to help them give up smoking is also being installed.

Signing the NHS smoke-free pledge, chair Jenni Douglas-Todd said: “We know that being in hospital is a stressful time for patients and visitors and so we recognise the challenge we have of dissuading people not to smoke in those moments.

“That is why we are implementing this pledge in a way that supports people to use alternatives to tobacco that are less harmful to their health - removing enablers for people to smoke whilst on our sites, so we know we are doing everything we can to improve health outcomes for our community.”

Chief executive officer David French added: “Sadly we see and treat all too many patients for conditions that are as a direct result of their addiction to smoking.

“Therefore, it is crucial that we play our part in helping support people not to smoke thereby protecting the health of people who are in our care, work here and who are visiting our hospitals. Providing a tobacco smoke-free environment across our estate is key to that.”

Chief medical officer Paul Grundy, who is leading the implementation of the plan, added: “This is an important moment for UHS which demonstrates our commitment to improve the health outcomes for our patients and our people.”

The move had been welcomed by health leaders in Southampton. Southampton City Councillor Lorna Fielker, Cabinet Member for Health, Adults and Housing, said: “I’m so pleased our partners at UHS have signed up to the NHS Smokefree Pledge and that they’re doing such fantastic work to encourage patients, staff and visitors to be smoke-free.

“We are working with health services across Southampton to make it as easy as possible to stop smoking and we are proud to have signed the similar Local Government Declaration on tobacco control.

“I have first-hand experience of using local stop smoking support services; the help and support available is brilliant and I’m pleased to say I have not smoked since!”

UHS has become one of the latest organisations to sign the NHS smoke free pledge that was relaunched last year to bring it in line with the government’s ambition for England to be smoke free.