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​Government Cuts Affect Valuable Health Services

4th May 2018

It will come as a surprise to few people that the current government are keen on making cuts. This is not a political blog posts, we simply write about anything that affects the health of the UK and that includes devastating cuts to smoking cessation services, due to funding being withdrawn or severely depleted.

Just over 50% of GPs are reporting that government cuts in their area are resulting in weight loss services, addiction support services, sexual health clinics/services and smoking cessation services being cut. While health services are trying to cut the number of teenage pregnancies, reduce adult smoking numbers, raise awareness about sexually transmitted infections, tackle life-altering addiction and more, their budgets are becoming more and more restrictive.

To say that this is frustrating is an understatement. Looking at the broader, long-term picture associated with cutting these programmes offers a dim view of the future. Take smoking for instance. We know that smoking tobacco cigarettes may cause cancer and a whole host of other diseases, respiratory infections/complaints and more. Smoking can cause premature death. Taking away something that enables individuals to quit smoking, when other methods have not been successful is in essence compounding the issue.

By removing funding for smoking clinics and more, surely the overall drain on the NHS will continue to increase, with more people requiring additional healthcare support over a longer period of time due to smoking-related illnesses? This will mean a continuation of the ongoing issue many face now of not being able to get medical appointments or there being long delays. These issues aren’t caused by the GP and other health services. They are caused by a greater uptake in services, fewer staff (due to budgets) and fewer clinics (due to budgets).

Vaping is a commonly seen and recognised alternative for smoking tobacco cigarettes. Public Health England, the government group who run the annual, and very successful Stoptober public health campaign which has resulted in many giving up smoking over the years have publicly advocated for the use of vaping as a valid alternative to smoking and a way to help people switch over from smoking. PHE also report that they have found that vaping is at least 95% less harmful than tobacco smoking. NHS stop smoking services have been known to offer a one-time £25 vaping voucher to be used to purchase a starter kit from local vaping retailers, as part of their effort to move away from smoking.

It is clear that smoking is bad and vaping is much healthier and much preferred by the NHS. How though, in these times of irresponsible reporting will smokers get to see and understand that vaping is a healthier alternative if stop smoking services are being cut? Where will they receive the personalised support that they need to quit smoking, via vaping or indeed by any means?

Needless to say, many are disappointed in these budget cuts, particularly in light of the fact that they will have a detrimental and far-reaching negative effect on health.

If you are struggling to get support from a stop smoking clinic, speak to your pharmacist and for any vaping-related questions, if you are considering switching over to vaping from smoking, please don’t hesitate to get in touch. Here’s hoping that someone somewhere with the power to make a change will realise that cutting health-related services such as these will only work out more costly in the long run, both financially and in terms of health, well-being and life expectancy.

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