The NHS Long Term Plan sets out plans to tackle ‘major killer conditions’ such as smoking and excessive alcohol consumption, which aims to save up to half a million lives.
In England 10% of pregnant women continue to smoke at the time of childbirth, with Blackpool seeing the highest rates (1 in 5).
Smoking during pregnancy can increase the likelihood of miscarriage, and triples the chance of sudden infant death.
NHS England Chief Executive, Simon Stevens, said: “Alcohol and tobacco addiction remain two of the biggest causes of ill health and early death, and the right support can save lives.”
The Royal College of Midwives (RCM) has also welcomed the news that more support will be in place for pregnant women who smoke during their pregnancy.
“The RCM welcomes this announcement in particular the focus on tackling smoking rates during pregnancy. The commitment to fund intensive support for women to stop smoking during pregnancy and to encourage their partners who also smoke to quit is particularly welcome,” Head of Health and Social Policy at the RCM, Sean O’Sullivan, said.
The NHS says support for quitting smoking will be rolled out to areas with the greatest need, with the aim of supporting 600,000 people to quit over the next five years.
Also as part of the NHS Long Term Plan, Alcohol Care Teams will be rolled out across 25% of hospitals with the highest number of alcohol-related admissions.
More information about the NHS Long Term Plan can be found here.
Royal College of Midwives Chief Executive and General Secretary, Gill Walton
“It is very encouraging to see maternity front and centre of this plan. There is much in the plan to welcome such as the commitment to reduce health inequalities, the renewed commitment to the Maternity Transformation Plan, and the pledge of a job guarantee for midwives after they qualify.
“Also very welcome is the announcement of the first Chief Midwifery Officer. This is an ambitious plan and good leadership will be needed to implement it, in midwifery and in other health professions.
“The issue of funding services also rears its head. There are some commitments in the plan to postnatal care yet this is an area that has long been underfunded. Key elements of the plan also talk about prevention of poor health such as reducing the numbers of people smoking. But we are seeing budgets for public health services such as smoking cessation cut.”
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