Smoking Cessation Service –new flexibility introduced due to COVID-19

21st May 2020

NHS Scotland circular PCA(P)(2020)9, to be reviewed in six months time, facilitates significant changes to enable the national Scottish Community Pharmacy Smoking Cessation Service to take less pharmacy staff time and support more patients to stop smoking during the pandemic.

Changes include:

  • Week 1 of supply and behavioural support may commence on initial contact
  • Weekly face to face support, can now if the responsible pharmacist considers, be less frequent and by phone or video if neccessary.
  • Carbon monoxide testing is be discontinued until social distancing measures enable this to be safe to do.
  • More than one week of NRT or Varenicline may be supplied at a time, if the RP considers appropriate, considering clinical and medicine waste risk. The recommendation is that the maximum supply is for four weeks unless exceptional circumstances

The full data capture, at initial contact, 4 and 12 weeks maintains a requirement of the service and is crucial for recognition of community pharmacy’s contribution towards the priority public health target of reducing smoking rates in Scotland to below 5% by 2034.

The circular also highlights that in some areas Health Board smoking cessation teams may be available to those pharmacies unable to support follow up data capture.