The community pharmacy smoking cessation scheme is to be expanded to include referrals for patients who have been screened for lung cancer, as part of a pilot scheme.
The pilot, which was due to begin in July 2023, will allow patients to be referred from targeted lung health check (TLHC) screenings, which are offered to people aged 55–74 years in some parts of England, who are current or former tobacco smokers.
Under the terms of the programme, community pharmacies in the pilot area that agree to take referrals from TLHCs will be given a one-off payment of £300 for team training towards providing the service, a £30 fee per patient for an initial appointment, £10 per patient for regular progress checks, and a £40 per patient payment after 12 weeks if the person has successfully stopped smoking.
The community pharmacy smoking cessation service was first commissioned as an advanced service under the ‘Community pharmacy contractual framework’ in March 2022.
It was originally trialled in Oldham, Greater Manchester, in 2020/2021 and is intended to provide follow-up stop-smoking care for patients who have recently been discharged from hospital.
In May 2022, The Pharmaceutical Journal reported that 2,200 pharmacies had signed up to provide the service in the first two months of it going live.
In a separate pilot run by Nottingham University Hospitals Trust, The Pharmaceutical Journal reported in June 2023 that community pharmacists would be able to refer women trying to conceive, as well as pregnant women and their families, to a scheme offering smoking cessation services within community pharmacy.
The Nottingham programme, which built on the community pharmacy smoking cessation service, was first announced in March 2022 and originally intended to run for one year, but it was expanded and extended to March 2024.
In a statement announcing the TLHC-to-pharmacy referral programme, the NHS Business Services Authority said that a total of 42 TLHC sites are already operating nationwide — one per Cancer Alliance, which bring together hospital trusts and other health and social care bodies to improve diagnosis, treatment and care of cancer patients locally — and that 800,000 patients had so far been invited for a TLHC check.
The statement added that the programme was intended to be fully established by 2028/2029, which would mean that the checks would be available for around 6 million people.