NHS Trust develops text messaging service to help quit smoking

Gateshead Health NHS Foundation Trust has designed and developed a fully automated text message service to help patients quit smoking one text at a time.

Gateshead patients who smoke and want to quit immediately have access to a new Smoking Cessation Service, which is a behavioural change text message service that is designed to give daily ‘nudges’ of motivation and advice that can give them the support they need when they need it.

In the UK smoking is responsible for the deaths of one in five adults aged 35 and over, and around half of long-term smokers will die as the result of their addiction.

Dr Rob Allcock, chest physician at Queen Elizabeth Hospital Gateshead said: “Whilst smoking rates across Gateshead have fallen by more than a third over the last eight years, smoking remains our largest cause of preventable death and it’s critical we continue to provide the region with education, information and support to help people put a stop to their addiction.”

The smoking cessation service was designed and developed by the Trust’s Global Digital Exemplar (GDE) team and launched in January 2019. Since its launch six months ago, hundreds of patients have accepted support to stop smoking and have benefited from daily support via their mobile phones.

GDE project lead Mark Hurrell said: “Patients discharged from hospital, those planned for admissions and outpatients are now asked if they smoke and all smokers who wish to stop are uploaded onto the mobile phone based service. Patients are then sent a series of motivational support messages over a three-month period and are also directed to appropriate stop smoking support”.

While the service is designed to support patients via mobile phone, to ensure motivation is literally at hand when needed, those without a mobile phone can also access support via the Trust’s partnership with Smoke Free Gateshead, a Public Health team hosted by Gateshead Local Authority, who offer face to face and telephone consultation support.

Andrea Adams, Digital Transformation Programme lead said: “Patient centred care is at the very heart of what we do within the GDE team and the smoking cessation service is a prime example of how digital technologies can help support patients in improving long term health.”


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