Eileen West is one of the many patients benefiting from Walsall Healthcare’s newly formed Tobacco Dependency Service.
The 77-year-old was admitted to Walsall Manor Hospital in October 2022 with pneumonia. It was her first time on a hospital ward – and she was suffering breathlessness, a nasty cough and a high temperature.
During her recovery, Tobacco Dependency Advisor Jackie Smith paid her a visit on the ward – offering her advice and access to nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) as part of an initiative to prevent long-term illness from smoking. The Trust’s newly formed ‘QUIT’ programme provides 12 weeks of free NRT, accessible on the ward at first, and later provided by a local pharmacy after discharge from hospital.
Giving up the cigarettes was particularly important for Eileen, who is living with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and heart failure. On a typical day she would inhale the toxins of around 20 cigarettes, which would have exacerbated her existing illnesses.
The Great Wyrley retiree, who worked in both hairdressing and catering, had previously “tried everything to quit”. Now, she has successfully abstained from smoking thanks to support arranged by Jackie and the team.
As part of the package, the pharmacist kept in contact with Eileen– reducing her nicotine patch dosage over time, as appropriate, until she no longer needed the patches. She now uses gum to help curb her cravings.
“My breathing is better and I’m feeling more positive,” she explained.
A smoker for more than 60 years, she is seeing “the financial benefits” of quitting.
Daughter Erika said: “Prior to receiving help from the team, she struggled to get through one week without having a cigarette. She never had the self-belief that she could quit, but I’m really pleased that she’s been able to make the change, with thanks to the team.
“The support offered is invaluable. Whilst it won’t make a drastic difference to life expectancy with her chronic illnesses it will certainly improve her quality of life and for that I’m incredibly grateful.”
Eileen is now adamant she is never having another cigarette, with a new found confidence to stick to her commitment.
Patients admitted to Walsall Manor Hospital, wanting to make the change, should look out for Jackie, Alison and her colleagues on their rounds – as support is there to help them make a long-term change.