MORE smokers are to be offered help to kick the habit before having surgery.
The NHS in Portsmouth and Hampshire is to step up efforts to get patients to quit before an operation to help improve their chances during and after surgery.
All GPs and hospital doctors will now refer patients needing non-urgent surgery to local stop smoking services.
But patients who do not want help can refuse and will still be referred for surgery.
Dr Paul Edmondson-Jones, NHS Portsmouth’s director of public health, said: ‘This isn’t about stopping smokers from having surgery. It’s about trying to help people quit because there’s medical evidence that stopping smoking before an operation improves the chances of the surgery being successful. If you smoke you are at a greater risk of things like anaesthetic complications and infections.
‘We also want to ensure all smokers are offered the same help, because at the moment some GPs might ask a patient if they smoke and refer them, but some might not even ask about smoking at all.’
If a smoker refuses help, their GP can refer them for surgery but the hospital clinician may decide they need to give up smoking.
GPs will continue to immediately refer patients who need urgent care or patients who have cancer, serious mental illness or learning disabilities, or are under 18.