A new policy for Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT) has been launched on two inpatient wards at King’s College Hospital, enabling trained nurses to administer NRT to their patients without a prescription.
Smokefree champions from the nursing team on Katherine Monk and Charles Polkey Wards have successfully completed a competency module to issue NRT to inpatients. The smokefree champions can now issue NRT to their patients for up to 72 hours without prescription. After 72 hours a prescription from a prescriber is required.
All adult patients that smoke and are admitted to King’s are offered NRT to help control symptoms of nicotine withdrawal, regardless of whether they wish to make a quit attempt or not. Common nicotine withdrawal symptoms include irritability, urge to smoke and anxiety. By providing NRT for a smoker on admission, nursing staff can avoid delays and help the patient manage their cravings and reduce motivation to smoke, so that they can focus on completing their treatment and recovering more quickly.
Sylvia McClean, Matron on Charles Polkey Ward, said: “The benefits to patients on an acute neurological ward will be great as one of the triggers for challenging behaviour is that of patients wishing to go out and smoke and being unable to, especially during the night. Having staff that can identify this patient group early and issue the homely remedies will be crucial in behavioural management.
“A lot of our patients have long term admissions and using NRT as a start towards smoking cessation is vital for their recovery. Many patients become aware of the dangers that smoking has, particularly on their outcome from neurological conditions such as brain haemorrhage and make efforts to stop.”