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All PCTs miss Choose and Book targets

A ‘sizeable minority' of GPs doubt the effectiveness of smoking cessation interventions and are reluctant to give advice on smoking in their surgeries, a new study reveals.

Researchers urged the Government to intervene to promote the benefits of smoking cessation to GPs and warned many patients were missing out on potentially lifesaving advice.

‘Around one-third of GPs hold negative beliefs and attitudes that may be contributing to the low rates of discussions about smoking in primary care consultations,' they concluded.

GPs said doubts occurred because there was a lack of training in smoking cessation and a shortage of well-funded stop-smoking services to refer patients to.

Some 42 per cent of GPs felt they lacked the time to give smoking cessation advice and 38 per cent did not believe existing interventions were effective, researchers found.

The meta-analysis of five UK and 15 international studies, published in Addiction (October), also found 22 per cent of GPs lacked confidence in discussing smoking cessation with their patients.

Study leader Florian Vogt, a research fellow in health psychology at King's College London, said: ‘What we have learnt from the study is that beliefs about the effectiveness of smoking cessation services are very important. There should be an intervention to address these beliefs.'

Professor Robert West, director of tobacco studies at Cancer Research UK, said: ‘The problem is with PCTs. It's absolutely beholden on chief executives to be very clear and firm that they are not asking a lot of GPs,

and that what GPs are being asked to do is very cost-effective as a way of saving patients' lives.'

But Dr Alex Bobak, a smoking cessation adviser at Wandsworth PCT and a GP in south London, said: ‘To be fair to GPs, we did not get trained at medical school or as registrars. The vast majority of GPs do not have the basics for smoking cessation.'

Dr Harry Yoxall, Somerset LMC medical secretary, said PCT provision of smoking cessation services was patchy. ‘Our PCT is very good but unless the trust has put its money where its mouth is with stop-smoking

services, it's very difficult to do it on your own.'

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