Hartlepool stop smoking clinics coming to a close as funding dries up

Clinics in Hartlepool to help smokers kick the habit have stopped accepting new members as funding runs out.

Friday, 15th March 2019, 3:58 pm
Updated Friday, 15th March 2019, 4:03 pm
Stop smoking clinics provided by North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust are coming to an end. Picture: Jonathan Brady/PA Wire

Nine stop smoking clinics staffed by NHS professionals ran across Hartlepool offering 12-week programmes to help people give up by providing nicotine replacements.

They were part of the Stop Smoking service funded by Hartlepool Borough Council who commissioned North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust.

The council has stopped commissioning the service and new people have not been accepted by the clinics since March 1.

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One service worker, Judith Rees, has criticised a lack of information about where to direct people wanting to join the clinics.

But council chiefs say are working to ensure a smooth end to the service and clients will be signposted to new community-based services as it draws to an end.

Judith, who retired from the service 18 months ago but still works for it occasionally, said: “We can carry on seeing patients already on an existing programme, but we can’t take on new starters now.

“We have not been told where to direct people.

“When it is ill people coming to you for help, we are health professionals and to turn them away at the door, it’s not right.”

The clinics provide nicotine replacement treatments including a tablet by prescription as well as patches, lozenges and gum.

A Hartlepool Borough Council spokesperson said: “We have made the decision to stop commissioning this service from North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust, but this does not mean that we are no longer supporting people who would like to stop smoking.

“We are working closely with the Trust to ensure that the current Hartlepool Stop Smoking services are decommissioned as smoothly as possible.

“It has been agreed that the services will be funded until the end of June and we aim to manage all existing clients through their 12-week cessation programme.

“Moving forward, we are developing an integrated community-based model for stop smoking services across Hartlepool which will reach out to far greater numbers of people than the existing service.

“New clients will be sign-posted into these new community-based services as we transition through to the end of June.”

Judith previously raised concerns what the end of the commissioned stop smoking service would mean for pregnant women in the town and the council’s ability to address Hartlepool’s smoking rates which are higher than the national average.