"Lack of smoking cessation support"

About: Central Lancashire PCT / Stop smoking service

(as the patient),

Having visited a stop smoking service, arranged through my employer, I was given the option of which method I preferred. I chose patches. Went to my local GP practice, and was told they did not take part in any smoking cessation work. Back to my counsellor, and I was advised to join a service through a local supermarket! Went to the supermarket, joined the service, started my course of patches, but without success. Back to the counsellor, to try medication.

Then back to my GP, where I got a lecture on the cost of providing Smoking Cessation services. He only gets £7.50 per patient apparently. I got lectured on patients who leave hospital and then have the nerve to ask their GP for a 'sick note', it should be the hospital who issued notes etc.

Finally, I was told that the PCT would have to provide any services that surgery refused to contract to. Contacted PCT (over 12 months ago), told they would be looking at this. Advised to 'make a complaint', again, given same advice by local Practice Manager at GP clinic. Just contacted PCT again, told they were still considering this. Meantime I'm still smoking, getting stressed (if I allowed myself) by my frustration at lack of services, lack of communication and quite frankly lack of interest.

I know that there are other services apart from medication, but I have tried several. Hypnotherapy, chewing gum, patches, dummy cigarettes and acupuncture. All to no avail. To add insult to injury, I was invited by one of our GP's to attend his acupuncture clinic at our local hospital. I was told I would have to pay £40 for the privilege too. When I explained that I had actually used his service at another clinic, I was left feeling I had not tried hard enough. I can expect this sort of 'opinion' from anyone who has never tried to give up smoking. If it was so easy then why do we need all these services. I do not know if the medication route would work. I would certainly like to at least be allowed to find out for myself.

I am interested in the costs that the NHS have to face, but when it is explained in terms that imply we wont take part because we're not being paid enough, I think I can be forgiven for showing some form of cynicism. So having got this lot partially off my chest, I need to know if anyone has come up against a similar wall and if they have overcome it. If anyone knows how long it takes a PCT to sort this out, please let me and anyone else in the same boat. This includes all the patients in our village, who also want to stop smoking, and know how this nut can be cracked.

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Response from Julie-Ann Bowden, Clinical Quality and Assurance Manager, NHS Central Lancashire

Dear Unchuffed Chuffer Thank you for taking the time to post your story. Your opinion is very important to us. In order to provide you with a valuable response, I would be grateful if you could let me know the name of the village that you refer to in the last paragraph of your story. There is no need to mention the name of the GP practice you are referring to. You can either post a further message here on the website or email me. Alternatively, you can contact me direct on 01695 588018.
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Update posted by Unchuffed chuffer (the patient)

Thank you for your interest.

I have already tried to take this up with the PCT. The village in question is Coppull.

Response from Julie-Ann Bowden, Clinical Quality and Assurance Manager, NHS Central Lancashire

Dear Unchuffed Chuffer

Unfortunately, the Stop Smoking Service within Central Lancashire PCT cannot provide Champix (Varenicline) or Zyban (Bupropion).

Before being prescribed either of the above medications, patients need to be assessed by a doctor/clinician who has full possession of medical history and the current approach to this process within Central Lancashire is by referral of the Stop Smoking Service back to the patient's GP. The Stop Smoking Service can only inform the patient that the decision to prescribe these medications can be made by their GP, there is no confirmation provided that the medications will be prescribed.

In the case of the practice that you have experience of, they have taken the decision to 'opt out' of providing this particular aspect of the Stop Smoking service.

I understand how frustrated you must feel about this situation. Please be assured that Central Lancashire PCT is working towards identifying a solution.

Thank you for sharing your experience through Patient Opinion. When any further information becomes available regarding this situation, an updated posting will be made.

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