Monday, 18 June 2012

Shadow Minister for Health: lack of progress in smoking cessation in pregnant women

The Shadow Minister's motion appears to challenge the closure of training facilities for midwives in Scotland. The wording is as follows:
*S4M-03281 Richard Simpson: Birth Rates in Scotland 
That the Parliament notes that the number of births reported by the Registrar General in the most recent midyear population statistics was 52,687 (2001), 51,239 (2002), 51,792 (2003), 53,576 (2004), 54,259 (2005), 54,961 (2006), 56,726 (2007), 59,240 (2008), 59,331 (2009), 58,937 (2010) and 58,766 (2011); notes that, following the low point in 2002, an increase of over 7,000 births annually is being sustained; understands that there are growing concerns regarding births where there are complex needs, such as multiple births or where drugs and alcohol issues are involved; believes that there has been a lack of any substantial progress in reducing the number of pregnant women who smoke or, after having successfully given up in pregnancy, resume smoking; notes what it considers to be the continuing low levels of initial or sustained breastfeeding; understands that there are demographic workforce pressures and these might be exacerbated by new pension arrangements; calls into question the whole basis of what it understands is the decision of the Scottish Government to cut the intake of midwifery students by 40%, with the closure of midwifery training at three university nursing and midwifery departments, and considers that this increasingly appears to be a misguided decision. 

Supported by: Mark McDonald*, Lewis Macdonald*, Iain Gray*, James Kelly*
No doubt this is a party political challenge along the lines of  'we would do better by pregnant women by not closing midwife training facilities'. But he is asking the Chamber to agree that £40 million of public expenditure is failing to persuade a critical target population to stop smoking. It's hard to imagine that £40 million (or more) spent under a different administration will stop people smoking.

I had thought with Give it Up for Baby (the scheme paying expectant mothers £12.50 a week to enrol in smoking cessation and keep off cigarettes for the duration) that they had found the magic bullet. The scheme, started in Dundee, has recently been declared a rip-roaring success and it has been announced that the government wishes to launch it across Scotland. I guess it is a little reassuring that not all the Parliamentarians are fooled by this hype. The facts are:

1. Scottish health boards have other priorities, many of which are far more urgent than smoking cessation;
2. Even if they didn't and the money available to be spent on this was limitless there is no proof that this expenditure would bring down the smoking rate further.

News:  1. There has been a reduced nicotine inhaler on my local supermarket shelf for nearly a month.
2. We are in the middle of the 2012 UK National Smoking Cessation Conference. Tomorrow's programme (i.e. for Tuesday) is here.

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