Friday, 4 February 2011

West Kent PCT - (Smoking! - to coin a phrase from Jim Carrey)

Back in December, courtesy of Dick Puddlecote, I posted about the above health authority in relation to a story that had appeared in the local press (link within my post). I wrote that I had submitted an FOI request and the response from Kent PCT has just been received, on headed notepaper, which reads (Kent PCT responses in bold):

"10th January 2011
Our Ref: FOI.370.10
Dear Mr Phipps,
I am writing in response to your request for information under the Freedom of
Information Act 2000 received on 14th December 2010. The information that you
requested is listed below together with a response in each case:
I wish to make a Freedom of Information request in respect of the statement that:
"there was "good evidence" that stopping smoking before surgery reduces the
length of hospital stay, infection rates and improves healing time."
I would like to know:
1. The research, in respect of smoking, on which this statement is based and a
copy, or the source from which it can be downloaded.
Please find attached Action on Smoking and Health fact sheet. All research,
consultations and dates are provided in the reference section.

2. When this research was carried out; by whom and the reasons for said
Please see response to question 1.
3. What consultations were held with service users prior to this policy being
A compulsory smoking cessation programme is not a policy being implemented in West
Kent. Having consulted with clinicians in West Kent we are now working to agree how
we can insert smoking advice into treatment pathways.

4. The individual responsible for this policy decision, his position and whether he
is someone 'appointed' by the PCT or 'elected' by the public.
A compulsory smoking cessation programme is not a policy being implemented in West
Kent. The Director for Public Health Improvement is Dr Declan O’Neill. Dr O’Neill was

Whether this is answered under this FOI request, or separately, I would like
justification for this policy decision, which would seem to contradict the
following statements on your website:
1. Equality and Human Rights states:
"We are committed to delivering equality of opportunity for all service users,
carers, staff and wider communities."
2. Free Choice - Your Choice states:
"This helps you ensure that you go to the place that best suits your needs, at a
time convenient to you."
3. Stop Smoking Services:
Where in those 'services' is it noted that one of the services offered by West Kent
PCT is the arbitrary decision on which this new policy is based.
Whilst these are not Freedom of Information questions for ease of receiving a reply in
one document, please find below our response.
Smoking cessation programmes are already running in hospitals to encourage patients
to consider stopping smoking before and after operations. We know from research* that
7 out of 10 adults who smoke wish to stop, and 4 out of 10 plan to stop within the next 6
months – and it takes the average smoker several attempts before they do eventually
quit for good.
On those grounds alone it is highly appropriate to encourage as many people as
possible to stop smoking whenever faced by one of these life events.
The health benefits of stopping smoking are widely recognised and we have been
consulting with clinicians and key stakeholders across West Kent as to the efficacy and
practicality of using a life event such as surgery to promote positive behavioural
change. We are proceeding with this on the grounds of public health. Widening the net
for opportunities to encourage people to stop smoking is something we will always do.
However, NHS West Kent is not implementing a compulsory smoking cessation
programme and there is not, nor will there ever be, a compulsory element to any
smoking cessation initiatives across West Kent. We have a duty of care to improve the
health and wellbeing of the population of West Kent and in everything NHS West Kent
does, our focus is to provide a service that is fair and accessible for our population and
a service which challenges and reduces health inequalities.
* National Statistics Omnibus Survey Report No. 36, 2008

I hope that this deals fully with your questions but if you are not satisfied with the way
your request has been dealt with please feel free to contact me in the first instance. If
you remain dissatisfied you may approach our Chief Executive in writing at:
Chief Executive
NHS West Kent
Wharf House
Medway Wharf Road
Should you remain dissatisfied with the outcome you have the right under s50 of the
Freedom of Information Act to appeal against the decision by contacting:
The Information Commissioner
Wycliffe House
Water Lane
Tel: 01625 545745
Yours sincerely
Jamie Sheldrake
Information Governance Manager

The ASH factsheet, to which the PCT refer, is one dated July 2009 and headed "Smoking and Surgery", which rather than try and reproduce, can be viewed here.

Anyway, I shall leave Dick Puddlecote to 'pull this apart' - he is far more experienced on the subject of smoking and all its ramifications than am I!


john in cheshire said...

I would suggest that any smoker who becomes a patient actually lies about his desire to quit smoking. Play these people at their own game. Show them the evidence they need, and when you have received the treatment you need, go back to smoking, if that's what you want to do. I speak as a non-smoker, but I'm so angry about the stalinist behaviour of the so-called caring services, I don't think they deserve the truth. play their game against them.

WitteringsfromWitney said...

jic: Why lie? Just tell them to foxtrot oscar! they have just denied something that they were practising!