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‘Absolutely brilliant’ team supports over 5,000 people in just two years

5th April 2018

Jade Cleaver was pregnant with her daughter and had been a smoker for 15 years when she turned to Wirral’s specialist stop smoking service for help. Now, she’s been quit for almost 12 months and has completely changed her lifestyle.

“I go boxing every Thursday which is quite an extreme workout and there is no way on Earth I could have done that before. I couldn’t even run for a bus! It’s amazing how much money I’ve saved too. I’d recommend this service to anyone – it’s absolutely brilliant!”

Jade is just one of more than an incredible 5,000 people who have accessed the free support package from ABL Wirral, run in partnership with Wirral Council, over the past two years. She credits her stop smoking advisor Lisa and the fact she was visited in her own home as two of the reasons the service worked for her.

She said: “I had never tried to quit before and had always wanted to smoke; then I was scared to try to quit in case I couldn’t. When I visited the midwives during my pregnancy, they’d check my carbon monoxide reading and the ‘bad mum’ alarm went off every time. They advised me that there was help available and a week later the stop smoking advisor, Lisa, came to see me in my home which was brilliant; the fact she came to me made all the difference.

“Lisa visited once a week to give me prescriptions for my patches and coached me, telling me I was doing fantastic and to take things one day at a time. She also phoned and texted me in between appointments. If I had a wobble, when having a cigarette was all I could think about, I would text her and she’d talk me out of it. I didn’t want to let her down and it was great to have a pat on the back when I was doing well.

“After four weeks I knocked down the amount of patches and, at 32 weeks I felt I could do it on my own. I wouldn’t go back now.”

ABL Wirral has seen some remarkable results, achieving a growing number of clients and positive results. Over 1,200 more people came through the service between April 2017-18 than the year before and quit rates remain consistent; with carbon monoxide monitors also enabling the team to increase their validation rate.

But what is it that has made the service such a success?

Liz Woodworth, who leads ABL Wirral and has over 25 years experience helping people quit smoking, puts it down to having a fantastic team, good partnership working and the quality of the service offered.

She said: “We’re a specialist, stand-alone service with skilled, highly trained employees including welcoming administration staff who also have knowledge of smoking cessation.

“People are seen immediately so we have no waiting list, there are a choice of interventions including clinics during the day, evenings and weekends at suitable venues across the borough, and we’re extremely flexible so we make sure we meet the needs of our clients. Everyone sets a quit date at their first appointment and we only use evidence-based methods of quitting throughout the programme.

“We’ve also done a huge amount of work to build partnerships and robust pathways place with other health professionals, for example we now have a member of the team based on site at the local hospital supporting patients and staff to quit. We’re well known in the community and have a good reputation – the results speak for themselves.”

The team is also proactive about raising the issue of smoking and driving forward the preventative agenda to make smoking history. Most recently, ABL brought Oldham Theatre Workshop to the Floral Pavilion in New Brighton to perform A World Away, a musical theatre production sharing no smoking messages with more than 1,500 Year 5 and 6 school children. The show, which was described as an ‘excellent example of effective and accessible theatre in education’ by one school, input into the current curriculum.

On World No Tobacco Day last year, the team organised a Question Time-style debate Stubbing It Out: How can e-cigs help us combat smoking in 2017? which was held at Birkenhead Town Hall and welcomed a panel of smoking cessation experts including pioneering GP, medical journalist and media doctor Alex Bobak and Psychologist Gay Sutherland, plus an audience of health professionals from across Wirral.

The service is also proactive about getting involved in smoking cessation research. It is currently working closely with Queen Mary’s University in London on a relapse prevention trial, which is investigating the benefits of supporting people in quitting smoking for a longer period of time and helping people cope with the temptation to smoke to reduce the chance of relapse.
To find out more about ABL Wirral, you can contact the team on 0151 541 5656 or e-mail wiccg.ablwirral@nhs.net

Anyone keen to sign up for support can also text ABL to 60777 or visit www.ablwirral.co.uk for details of drop-in clinics.