No surgery unless you try to stop smoking, doctors say

Picture: Owen Humphreys/PA Wire

Picture: Owen Humphreys/PA Wire - Credit: PA

Smokers have been told they could be denied surgery they need unless they try to stop smoking.

North East Essex Clinical Commissioning Group has brought in new rules this month which require smokers being referred for a surgical procedure to have at least one appointment with the area’s Stop Smoking Service.

People who decline to have the stop smoking appointment may be refused surgery, the CCG says.

The changes, however, do not apply to referrals for suspected cancer or emergency surgery.

It is believed the move will help to reduce the risks of complications after surgery, as well as shorten the healing time of any wounds and cut the amount of time that person has to spend in hospital.

Lisa Llewelyn, director of nursing and clinical quality for North East Essex CCG, said: “Every cigarette causes serious harm to both smokers and their families.

“We know smokers have a higher risk of post-operative infection and have longer recovery rates.

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“This positve change in policy will encourage people to take advantage of the free stop smoking support available locally, by working together with general practices and Essex Lifestyle Service to improve health outcomes.”

Essex County Council has commissioned The Essex Lifestyle Service to run the stop smoking service.

Ellen Van Gemmert, who leads the Essex Lifestyle Service, said: “We have various ways to help people to quit smoking for good.

“It doesn’t matter how someone gives up smoking, evidence shows they are four times more likely to be successful with support from a stop smoking service.

“Our specialist stop smoking support is flexible and tailored to individual needs.

“A variety of stop smoking products can be prescribed, if they are needed.”

The Stop Smoking Service is available to everyone living or working in Essex. It provides treatment, advice and support in over 200 locations across Essex, including GP surgeries pharmacies and specialist clinics.

To access the free stop smoking support available, speak to your GP or contact the Essex Lifestyle Service on 0300 303 9988 or email

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