Last week Jon Cruddas MP was contacted by the Associate Medical Director and Honorary Consultant Physician of the Barking, Havering and Redbridge Hospitals Trust seeking support against a recent proposal put forward by the London Borough of Havering to cut important services.
The NHS is increasingly under pressure to cut costs as a result of significant underinvestment. Smoking is an enormous health concern that research suggests will ultimately kill 50% of long-term smokers despite being preventable with the right care and support. In addition, disadvantaged groups are at an even higher risk of developing addiction but find it more difficult to access the services they need.
Continued investment in the SSS (Stop Smoking Services) will not only save lives but be much more cost effective in the long-term. The vast majority of smokers say they want to quit but very few are able to do so without any support. Stop Smoking Services provide crucial assistance to smokers, especially from disadvantaged groups looking to quit for a very small price.
Slashing the funding for these anti-smoking services will disproportionately affect poorer individuals, leaving them without the support they need. It will also mean even higher costs for the NHS because it is anticipated there will be an increase in people dealing with serious heart and lung conditions as a result.
The London Borough of Havering's Public Health plan to encourage electronic cigarette use or nicotine replacement would prove to be an ineffective solution costing more in the future. SSS has worked for years to develop the skills and ability to effectively deal with disadvantaged smokers that will not easily be replaced. Smokers that use Stop Smoking Services who would often not have the support otherwise, are four times more likely to quit.
Jon commented: "It is important that these services are not cut; it will lead to an inequality in access to support – leaving many disadvantaged local residents without the care they need.
"With a national focus on raising public health we should be looking at investing more into socially beneficial services like this, not disinvesting. The evidence suggests that the long-term financial strain on other services will be greater if preventative measures like the Stop Smoking Services are cut. That is why I am supportive of the local Trust in this instance."
Jon Cruddas MP fully supports the continuation of Stop Smoking Services at the North East London Foundation of Trust. In the coming weeks Jon will be contacting NELFT directly to continue his support for the anti-smoking services on behalf of the Barking, Havering and Redbridge Hospital Trust.