NPN | Stop Smoking: Hospital Referral Service Now Underway

In January 2019, the NHS Long Term Plan discussed a significant new contribution to making England a smoke-free society, supporting people in quitting using the Ottawa Model for Smoking Cessation. This proven model is fairly straightforward - when a patient is admitted to hospital, their smoking status is established, and they are given brief advice, personalised bedside counselling, timely nicotine replacement therapy or pharmacotherapy, and a follow-up after being discharged. In 2021, a Pharmacy Integration Fund pilot began to test a new model, in which community pharmacies managed the continuing provision of smoking cessation support following patient discharge from hospital.

As of March 10th, the new nationally commissioned community pharmacy smoking cessation service is underway. Contractors have been able to sign up to the service since March 1st via the NHSBSA’s Manage Your Service portal, and it has now officially launched. The service, involving referrals to pharmacy from secondary care, is expected to start somewhat slowly, as a result of the winter workload that pharmacy teams are still working through - it’s expected that it will take some time for pharmacy referrals to begin.

Your local pharmacy teams have been advised to “consider the likelihood that they will receive sufficient referrals to make provision of the service practical and worthwhile,” with the PSNC advising contractors to contact their LPC in order to access the readiness of their local NHS trust.

At the moment, the service can only be delivered by a pharmacist, but PSNC are working with HM Revenue to make amendments that will allow support staff to provide it as well - in keeping with other locally commissioned smoking cessation services.

“Community pharmacy has a long record of supporting people to stop smoking, including through locally commissioned services.” Alastair Buxton, PSNC services director, says: “This is an enormously important intervention to improve the health of individuals and to tackle health inequalities within our society.”

“In addition to allowing pharmacies to help more individuals, the SCS has a strategic importance within the CPCF: it is another clear demonstration of how community pharmacy can support the health of the nation, collaborate with NHS trusts and support the future sustainability of the NHS. It will also help to further integrate pharmacies into wider healthcare pathways, in line with NHS ambitions.”

“We are, however, within the early days of the rollout of the Ottawa model within hospitals, so there will be no big-bang start for the service and it will likely take two years for referrals to reach a steady state. Contractors must bear that in mind, as well as the local situation with their nearby hospitals, when deciding whether to provide the service.”


Your local pharmacy may opt to provide the Smoking Cessation Service, so feel free to get in touch with your community pharmacy team to find out if this service is available to you. Pop into the pharmacy, or discover the best way to contact them using the National Pharmacy Network today.