There has been a much greater demand for stop smoking services across Fermanagh in recent months as people wish to stop smoking for health reasons and people wish to stop smoking as being a smoker puts you at greater risk for Covid-19. These services in Fermanagh are usually ran out of the South West Acute Hospital and are staffed by expert advisers who provide a range of proven methods to help those who wish to stop smoking quit.

Michelle Scott, Smoking Cessation Coordinator for the Western Trust said: “At any given time, there may be some people waiting to enrol onto the smoking cessation service right across the Western Trust area and this figure can fluctuate on a daily basis. Face to face Smoking Cessation Clinics have been suspended due to Covid-19 restrictions, however, Smoking Cessation Nurse Specialists have been supporting clients remotely over the past six months. Feedback from clients has been very positive.

Michelle added: “Referrals to the Smoking Cessation service can come in from many sources including self-referrals, hospital referrals, Pharmacists and GPs. We contact each client asking if they wish to participate in the programme. If the client declines we highlight other services such as signposting to pharmacy or GP’s and discharge them. Pharmacy smoking cessation services were stood down for a period due to Covid-19 restrictions and were re-instated at the start of August 2020. During this time we received an increase in referrals into the Trust’s smoking cessation service.

“Clients who wish to engage with our service are then enrolled and make a commitment to participate in the 12xweek programme and are supported throughout this time.”

The NHS website advices that people who wish to stop smoking to seek out a stop smoking service. The website says: "The majority of people who see an adviser will get through the first month after quitting without smoking a cigarette.

"Overall, you're up to 4 times more likely to stop smoking for good if you use a combination of stop smoking treatment and receive support from an NHS Stop Smoking Service." she says.

Enniskillen Councillor Donal O’Cofaigh addressed the waiting list issue and said: “During the Covid pandemic, there has been a surge in the numbers seeking specialist ‘smoking cessation’ support. I had heard from hospital sources that there was a large waiting list at the end of August but Dr Kilgallen (CEO of the Western Trust) has indicated that the waiting list as of 10th September was only 19 for the Fermanagh and Omagh area. Hopefully, this is indicative that the waiting list has been reduced significantly although I will continue to monitor the situation and encourage anyone facing a delay accessing this service to contact me.”

“For anyone looking support to stop smoking please contact the Western Trust Stop Smoking Service on 0800 917 9388.”