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Northumbria Healthcare signs pledge to go 'truly' smoke-free

Northumbria Healthcare will be the first acute trust in the North East to go truly smoke-free Credit: Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust

Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust has announced it is going completely smoke-free.

It means that smoking will not be permitted in any of its hospitals, community sites or grounds across Northumberland and North Tyneside.

The trust has signed the NHS Smokefree Pledge to support a smoke-free NHS and its commitment to helping smokers (staff and patients) to quit, by creating a smoke-free environment that helps them to do so.

Northumbria Healthcare will be the first acute trust in the North East to go truly smokefree and is leading the way in the region’s NHS. Nationally NHS England has committed hospitals and mental health services to become truly smoke-free by 2019.

The pledge was signed by the trust’s chair Alan Richardson, chief executive Jim Mackey and executive medical director Jeremy Rushmer together with Judith Stonebridge, smokefree lead and public health consultant.

Mr Mackey said: “Our journey towards our smoke-free future began a long time ago and for the last 12 months we have been working hard to ensure that everything is in place for the end of March.

“We’re delighted to be a pioneering trust in this respect and sign the NHS Smokefree Pledge to further demonstrate our commitment to providing a safe environment for our staff and patients that promotes health, and reduces harm from exposure to second-hand smoke.”

The pledge has been developed by the Smokefree Action Coalition and is endorsed by Steve Brine MP, the public health minister, Simon Stevens, chief executive of NHS England, Duncan Selbie, chief executive of Public Health England, and other health leaders.

Smoking is the leading cause of premature death and disease and kills 79,000 people every year. The NHS has a key role to play in reducing the number of people who smoke, yet smoking places a major burden on the NHS. The cost of smoking to the NHS in England is £2.5billion every year.

Simon Stevens, chief executive of NHS England, said: “Most smokers want to quit and we’re seeing good progress on lower smoking rates. To build on this we’d now like to see NHS organisations across the country sign up to the NHS Smokefree Pledge.”

Duncan Selbie, chief executive of Public Health England, said: “The NHS admits a patient every minute because of a smoking-related disease and 1 in 4 beds are occupied by a smoker. Given that most smokers want to quit, this is an unparalleled opportunity for NHS staff to do all possible to help them quit.

“NHS England has committed hospitals and mental health services to become truly smoke-free by 2019 and I am delighted that the Smokefree Action Coalition has made it possible for each of them to publicly pledge their commitment to this.”