Smoking in the Weeks before an Operation Adds to the Health Risks; NHS Scheme Could Help Reduce Post-Operative Complications

Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales), February 2, 2009 | Go to article overview

Smoking in the Weeks before an Operation Adds to the Health Risks; NHS Scheme Could Help Reduce Post-Operative Complications


Byline: Madeleine Brindley Health Editor

PATIENTS will be encouraged to stop smoking before undergoing an operation as a new scheme is launched today.

NHS staff will be trained to offer stop-smoking advice and patients will be referred to a special support scheme run by Stop Smoking Wales.

It is hoped that the initiative will lower the risks of complications for smokers following surgery.

Smoking increases the chance of complications such as breathing and lung problems, risk of infection and poorer healing of wounds, all of which mean that smokers are more likely to stay in hospital longer than non-smokers.

Stopping smoking at least eight weeks before an operation can reduce the chance of these complications and save the NHS up to 7,000 bed days a year in Wales.

Dr Tony Jewell, Wales' chief medical officer, who will launch the new service today at the Royal Glamorgan Hospital, in Llantrisant, said: "Currently around a quarter of the Welsh population smoke and the proportion of adults who smoke remains higher in the more deprived parts of Wales.

"This means there is a correlation between deprivation and poor health, with the pattern of inequalities in the health of the most deprived people in Wales continuing.

"This new initiative will help by signposting smokers to dedicated support to help them quit before their operation.

"Pre-operative smoking cessation encourages patients to take more responsibility for reducing their recovery time by quitting smoking before an operation.

"It is the collective responsibility of government, the health sector, communities and individuals to work towards improving the health of the people of Wales."

All outpatient and vascular nurses will be trained to offer smoking cessation advice and refer patients to the Stop Smoking Wales specialist behavioural support programme.

Claire Bevan, divisional nurse in acute services at Cwm Taf NHS Trust, said: "More than 50 staff in Cwm Taf NHS Trust alone have already received free training from Stop Smoking Wales specialists and there is a programme of training under way across Wales.

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