Newham: Targeting manual workers and people with long-term conditions

Quit Well Newham was launched in January 2021. It provides quit aids such as nicotine replacement therapy and e-cigarettes alongside expert support from a stop smoking adviser

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Newham’s stop smoking service Quit Well Newham has established a number of priority groups for targeting its support. This includes manual workers alongside people with long-term conditions. The service runs outreach clinics to engage these groups who are both vulnerable and at high risk of smoking-related illnesses. 

How the service works  

Quit Well Newham was launched in January 2021. It provides quit aids such as nicotine replacement therapy and e-cigarettes alongside expert support from a stop smoking adviser. The adviser offers four weekly sessions as standard, but that can be extended to up to 12 weeks for priority group clients. These are held either face-to-face, on the telephone or via video link.   

Assistant Public Health Strategist Sumaiyah Rahman said: “We are really guided by what the clients want. Some like to do it face-to-face at one of our clinics, but for others the convenience of being able to do it remotely at the time that works best for them is better.   

“When we launched the service it was during Covid so remote appointments were needed. Now more are opting for face-to-face – over half are seen that way. The service has worked really well, but know we have to work harder to reach certain groups.   

“Our starting point is always the data. We gather evidence on who we are reaching and who we are not. Once we identify a priority group we look at what barriers they might be facing and design some outreach around that.”   

Going out to construction sites and factories  

One of the priority groups are manual workers. The service has started doing some outreach by going out to work locations. Over the past year this has included visits to constructions sites, the local Tate and Lyle sugar factory and the council’s depot where refuse workers and other teams work.    

“Our advisers go down and introduce themselves and the service,” said Ms Rahman. “A lot of these workers are simply unaware of the support that is on offer. There is a big eastern European community working at these sites so language can also be a barrier. It prompted the team to develop stop smoking material in key community languages such as Romanian and Lithuanian to broaden their reach, whilst raising awareness and improve accessibility into Quit Well Newham. 

The take-up has been impressive. At the most recent outreach sessions 25 workers from a construction site signed up and 20 from the sugar factory.   

“We always take the carbon monoxide monitors down. People are really interested in them – everyone likes a free health test so it breaks down some of the barriers. Some can be quite surprised by the readings and it prompts them to think about what we can offer,” added Ms Rahman. 

Due to the targeted outreach, smoking prevalence among adults in routine and manual occupations has now dropped to 9.9 per cent in Newham, which is below the London and England averages. 

‘We’re having a major impact’  

Meanwhile, the work with people with long-term conditions, such diabetes, cancer and respiratory illnesses, has involved close partnership working with the NHS. The local trust – Barts Health – has its own stop smoking adviser who works with people when they are admitted into the hospital. Patients are then referred directly on to the Quit Well Newham team when they are discharged.   

One of those who has been helped is Shahjahan. He was smoking six cigarettes a day, but has now been smokefree for four months.   

He said he was motivated by the chance to improve his health, saying he received “excellent” support.   

“The service was easy to use and the free medications were really helpful. If I had any concerns, my adviser was readily available for appointments. She was very approachable and trustworthy. The way she communicated, her advice and follow up calls supported me on my journey to quit."    

Referral pathways have also been established with primary care teams, including GPs, who routinely offer smokers referral to Quit Well Newham when smoking status is recorded.   

A similar arrangement is in place with East London Foundation Trust, which provides inpatient mental health support. Their stop smoking adviser starts support before referring on to the Quit Well Newham team.   

Public Health Commissioner Madalina Pop said the service wants to build on that moving forward. “There are other health staff, such as dentists, we could work with to identify those who are most in need of our support. Around half of our clients at the moment are people with long-term conditions – if we can help them quit then we can have a major impact on their health.”   

Quit rate ‘very encouraging’  

The team has also started targeting its work towards the most deprived areas in the borough. This has involved holding outreach clinics in community locations such as libraries and a local GP surgery.   

Figures show those that receive support have a very good chance of quitting. More than 2,000 people have been helped by the service since it was launched with 54 per cent achieving quit status by the end.   

Ms Pop said the performance has been “very encouraging”. “The data for recent months suggests the quit rate is getting even better.”   

She said one of the most important factors in reaching out to different communities is having a team of stop smoking advisers that reflect the local population. There are four members in the team, all from different backgrounds. Support is available in English, Bengali, Urdu, Gujarati and Lithuanian as well as British Sign Language. “This is so important when you are trying to win the trust of people you are trying to help,” added Ms Pop.   

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