Mental health patients in Greater Manchester to receive specialist stop smoking support – Make Smoking History

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Mental health patients in Greater Manchester to receive specialist stop smoking support

Greater Manchester Mental Health NHS Foundation Trust (GMMH) has become the first mental health Trust in Greater Manchester – and one of the first in the country – to launch a specialist stop smoking programme to help patients living with mental illness go smokefree.

Photo of staff from GM Mental Health Trust

The treating tobacco dependency programme, known as ‘The CURE Project’, officially launched on Thursday 30 March 2023 at Rivington Unit in Bolton and Moorside Unit in Trafford - with plans to roll out the service further later this year.

As part of the new service, patients admitted to the mental health units identified as smokers, will be given one-to-one support from a specialist advisor and a welcome pack to help them stay smokefree. The packs contain information about stopping smoking, nicotine replacement products like patches, inhalators or vapes, and tools to help distract from cigarette cravings. After leaving hospital, patients will continue to receive the same level of personalised support from the stop smoking team to increase their likelihood of quitting successfully.

Samantha Stansfield, Lead Professional for Physical Healthcare at GMMH, said: “I’m delighted that we are launching this new service to help more patients stop smoking as it can greatly improve a patient’s recovery whilst they are in hospital, as well as improve their overall health and wellbeing.

“Not only does smoking increase the risk of developing cancer, lung disease and heart disease, but the chemicals in cigarettes also interfere with chemicals in the brain, increasing feelings of stress and anxiety, and worsening symptoms of mental illness.

“Stopping smoking isn’t easy, but it’s much easier with the right support. For those that aren’t quite ready to stop smoking completely, the team will help them make the most of the free nicotine replacement and treatments to make their hospital stay more comfortable as smoking is not permitted anywhere on hospital grounds. For patients who are ready to stop smoking, the support they receive will extend beyond their hospital stay so they can continue their smokefree journey.”

Around a third of all cigarettes smoked in England are smoked by people with a mental disorder – who are also more likely to be heavier and more dependant smokers. It is also estimated that half of deaths among people with severe mental illness, like schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, are attributable to smoking.

Dr Matt Evison, Clinical Lead for Greater Manchester’s CURE Project, said: “Smoking is the biggest cause of preventable illness and death in the world, and smoking rates among people with severe mental illness are significantly high, which is why this new service is so vital to support patients.

“We know from experience that if we can encourage a patient to stop smoking while in hospital it is easier for them to make the transition once discharged and they are more likely to stay smokefree in the long-term.”

It is especially important for smokers living with mental illness to get support to quit, as tobacco smoke can interact with some psychiatric medications making it less effective. This means an increase in dosage is often needed and some people may experience more side effects associated with these drugs. However, when people on these medications reduce their tobacco consumption, they can expect to be prescribed lower doses.

The CURE Project is supported by the Greater Manchester Integrated Care Partnership, as part of a whole system approach to make smoking history by reducing smoking rates in Greater Manchester.

For free, personalised support to stop smoking in Greater Manchester visit our Local Services page or call the NHS Stop Smoking Helpline on 0300 123 1044.