Trust Leads Way in Smoking Cessation Project

22nd June 2023
1. Dr Richard Hewitt explaining the benefits of smoking cessation

The South Eastern Health & Social Care Trust is delighted to be the first Trust to enrol in the UK-wide British Thoracic Society Quality Improvement Programme, which offers patients the opportunity to quit smoking upon admission to hospital.

It has been revealed in several national audits that many smokers are admitted and discharged from hospital wards without being asked if they smoke or given advice, medication, or support to quit smoking – and the South Eastern Trust wants to change that.

Evidence tells us that although 17% of people living in Northern Ireland smoke, the percentage of inpatients who are smokers is around 30–35% and they are more likely to have acute or chronic conditions that require hospital treatment. Being admitted to hospital can be a motivator for someone to quit smoking and it is an ideal time to deliver tobacco treatment interventions, such as nicotine replacement products and behavioural support.

The Stop Smoking Team within the South Eastern Trust is made up of highly skilled practitioners who are always looking for opportunities to improve the service for the overall benefit of patients. The programme has provided structured support to identify areas of improvement and to work in partnership with key partners such as Medical, Nursing, and Allied Health Professional staff to enhance the service, which already exceeds quit rate targets and achieves excellent service user feedback.

Explaining the importance of smoking cessation upon admission to hospital, Consultant Respiratory Physician Dr Richard Hewitt explained, “We are very keen for patients to stop smoking when they are admitted into hospital.  Smoking is one of the key reasons patients require admission for treatment. We want to take the opportunity to maximise their chances of smoking cessation and address tobacco addiction in hospital with a plan on discharge to continue to stop smoking.

“When you are in the hospital with an acute exacerbation of a respiratory illness, you are at a good point to think about giving up smoking.   Nicotine and other toxins in cigarettes can impair healing, increase the risk of infection and cause other complications. By quitting smoking, you can decrease these risks and increase your chances of a successful recovery.

“With the right interventions and support, we really can make a difference.”

Health Development Specialist, Shirley McClelland added, “The Trust promotes the use of quality improvement methodology as a means to ensure excellence in patient care.  We are delighted to be involved in this programme with the British Thoracic Society, which will help ensure we achieve the very best outcomes for our patients.”

Quitting smoking can be a challenge, but it is also a rewarding and empowering experience. There are many resources available to help you quit, including nicotine replacement therapy, support groups, and medication.

The Stop Smoking Team at the South Eastern Trust can offer help and advice on quitting. For further information, please contact

More information can be accessed at