Hospital patients who smoke or drink to be helped to quit

Smokers and problem drinkers who are admitted to hospital in England will be given help to quit or cut down, to reduce demands on the health service.

The measures are part of a long-term plan to be announced over the next few days by NHS England.

It said addiction to alcohol and tobacco were two of the biggest causes of ill health and early death.

And the right support could save lives and help people stay fitter for longer.

Health charity Ash said it was delighted by the plans and Public Health England called the move “smart”, saying it would save thousands of lives and help the NHS survive into the future.

Support schemes

Alcohol-related harm costs the NHS in England around £3.5bn each year – admissions to hospitals have increased by 17% in the past decade to just over 2% of the total number.

But the use of specialist Alcohol Care Teams has seen a significant reduction in A&E attendances, ambulance call-outs and re-admissions.

The teams offer specialist help to patients on how to give up drinking and support to stay off it, which includes written advice, as well as counselling.

That scheme is already running in Bolton, Salford, Nottingham, Liverpool, London and Portsmouth.