Flexible approach to smoking cessation service announced


A circular issued from Scottish Government has informed community pharmacy teams of some temporary flexibility in how the national smoking cessation service can be delivered and support that may be available from local specialist smoking cessation.


The circular from the Chief Pharmaceutical Officer Rose Marie Parr suggests, amongst other things, reducing contacts with patients and also stopping the process of monitoring carbon monoxide levels of those accessing the service during the pandemic.


Under the Public Health Service (PHS) banner, all community pharmacy teams in Scotland offer structured smoking cessation support to clients who need it, contributing to the wider target of reducing smoking rates to below 5% across the country by 2034.


With emerging evidence suggesting that smokers who contract COVID-19 have significantly worse outcomes vs. non-smokers, supporting people to stop smoking is now more of a public health priority than.


The expectation is that where this flexibility is used, some of the time saved is spent ensuring that the initial data capture and the required 4- and 12-week data submissions are completed accurately on the PCR.


The smoking cessation pharmacy service specification requires pharmacy teams to operate a “Week zero” procedure, asking clients who access the service to set a quit date and return to have their first behavioural support session and collect their first supply of therapy. During the COVID-19 pandemic, the Responsible Pharmacist may consider whether it is more appropriate to allow clients to access behavioural support and therapy straight away to reduce unnecessary visits to the pharmacy.


The Smoking Cessation pharmacy service specification also requires pharmacy teams to deliver weekly face-to-face behavioural support consultations with clients. During the COVID-19 pandemic, the Responsible Pharmacist may use their professional judgement to offer consultations less frequently, balancing each clients’ needs with the current need to maintain physical distancing and reduce unnecessary travel. Depending on the clients’ circumstances, it may also be necessary to conduct consultations over the phone or as a video call where possible.


Carbon Monoxide monitoring should be discontinued until physical distancing measures are relaxed to a degree that would allow the safe recording of CO levels. Pharmacy teams should use the information provided to them by the client to complete the PCR, completing the mandatory CO fields at 0, 4 and 12 weeks as appropriate.


On balance, the pharmacy team is expected to use any time savings to fully complete the initial data capture for each client as well as the 4- and 12- week data submissions. The reporting function of the PCR is key to achieving this, with best practice being to proactively monitor the reports for upcoming 4- and 12-week submissions once per week on a set day, following up with clients as required.


These temporary arrangements will be reviewed in 6 months.


You can read the full circular below.


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This circular is being shared under the Open Government Copyright licence.


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