Quitting smoking made easier as high street pharmacies offer NRT on the NHS

Thursday 21 June 2001

**embargoed until 00.01am 21st June 2001 **

There is good news for smokers trying to quit with the announcement that nicotine therapies are soon to be available through high street pharmacies on the NHS, without having to go to the doctor.

The Pharmacy Healthcare Scheme (PHS) today launches a guidance document [1] for the supply of Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT) on the NHS through pharmacy. Patients who are on an NHS ‘stop smoking’ programme will soon be able to get their NRT direct from the pharmacy. This will make quitting smoking more convenient and – it is hoped – encourage more people to try to stop. It will also reduce demand on doctors’ time, helping the NHS to run more smoothly.

Yve Buckland, the newly elected Chair of PHS, said that “this initiative will help more smokers get access to the treatment they need on the NHS. Pharmacists are ideally placed to provide advice on stopping smoking and advising customers which NRT products are the most suitable for them.”

Speaking for the Tobacco Advisory Group of the Royal College of Physicians Professor John Britton said “we welcome this development from the Pharmacy Healthcare Scheme for two reasons. Firstly, it will ensure patients can go straight from the NHS smoking cessation services to the pharmacy to pick up their supply without having to go via their GP”.

“Secondly, patients who try to stop smoking using NRT are twice as likely to succeed as those who try without and it is important that people have access to it. This guidance document allows the supply of NRT to groups of patients who are not always covered by the product licence but who would benefit from using NRT – which is a considerably safer product than tobacco.”

Clive Bates, Director of the charity Action on Smoking and Health (ASH), said “This initiative will help smokers get the help they need without doctors drowning in extra workload. By devolving functions like prescribing nicotine patches and gum to nurses and pharmacists, the NHS can really get to grips with the single most important cause of cancer and heart disease in Britain.”

The guidance document will be sent out to all NHS Pharmaceutical Advisers and Smoking Cessation services by e-mail today. Further copies of the guidance document on NRT can be obtained from PHS on 020 7820 3213 or e-mail: phs@rpsgb.org.uk

The Patient Group Direction / Service Specification can also be downloaded as a pdf here.

It can also be found at www.groupprotocols.org.uk

The Royal PharmaceuticalSociety of Great Britain (RPSGB): www.rpharms.com



1.The full title of guidance document is Sample Patient Group Direction and Service Specification for the supplyof Nicotine Replacement Therapy through pharmacies.

2.Stopping smoking is the most important single act that a smoker can do to improve their health.  Smoking causes 46,000 cancer deaths per year – 30% of all cancer deaths (including 82%of lung cancer deaths).  It also causes 40,000 heart disease deaths per year – 25% of all heart disease deaths.  Smoking also causes 83% of deaths from bronchitis and emphysema. One quarter of all strokes are attributable to smoking.

3.NRT became available on NHS prescription from 17 April 2001.

4.Organisations supporting the use of the guidance document at a local level are:

  • The Tobacco Advisory Group of the Royal College of Physicians
  • The Royal College of General Practitioners
  • The Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain
  • The Royal College of Nursing
  • The charity Action on Smoking and Health (ASH)
  • The stop smoking charity Quit

5.The Pharmacy Healthcare Scheme is an independent charity set up to develop the contribution of pharmacy to public health through research, training and education.

Registered office: 1 Lambeth High Street,London SE1 7JN

Registered charity number: 1021335

Registered company number: 2768032