Smokers need more help from GPs, figures show

Southern smokers struggling to quit are not been given enough help by their GPs, new figures show.

The Ministry of Health released figures this week that show southern primary health workers gave only 62 per cent of patients help to quit smoking during January to March - the second-lowest percentage in New Zealand.

Southern Primary Health Organisation chief executive Ian Macara said to improve statistics, patients and practitioners needed to develop a better approach.

"We need a multifaceted approach ... I don't think people out there are acting on the information available though."

Macara said the practices had also had some trouble collecting the right data.

"It is slightly easier for hospitals because it is a captive audience; where they deal in the hundreds of patients, we deal with thousands," he said.

Cancer Council health promotion advisor Skye Kimura-Paul said research shows smokers supported by health professionals have the highest quit rates.

"We know cessation works when people seek advice and use patches, lozenges and medications."

The figures show 95 per cent of patients identified as smokers in southern hospitals completed a quit smoking programme.

Macara said the organisation had developed practice support teams to help improve the primary care statistic next quarter.

The Southern District Health Board did not respond to questions before deadline.

The Southland Times