SMOKERS in Redditch and Bromsgrove who are trying to quit are being badly let down, according to analysis by the British Lung Foundation (BLF).

BLF’s analysis of figures released by NHS Digital suggests people in the area are struggling to access vital stop smoking treatments from GPs or pharmacists to help them quit their deadly addiction.

Across 2018/19, Redditch and Bromsgrove Clinical Commissioning Group’s prescriptions for the most effective stop-smoking treatment, varenicline, often sold under the brand name Champix, dropped to just 72 items - fewer than one prescription per 1,000 people.

The slump in prescriptions for Redditch and Bromsgrove is seen across all stop-smoking treatments including nicotine replacement therapy (NRT), such as patches and lozenges, and medication including Champix and Zyban.

The smoking rate across the area varies but is as high as 20.5% in Redditch, much higher than the overall UK rate of 14.7%.

Rachael Hodges, senior policy officer at the British Lung Foundation, said: “It’s shocking but sadly not surprising that the number of stop smoking treatments being prescribed has continued to fall so drastically.

"Cuts to public health funding means local authorities and CCGs are struggling to offer comprehensive stop smoking support.

“Although the number of people smoking is continuing to decline, we must not be complacent.

"For a person living with a lung condition, quitting smoking is one of the best things they can do for their health, and they should be given the best chance possible to quit.

“One of the aims in the government’s prevention green paper is to end smoking by 2030.

"To make this a reality the government must make public health funding a priority and local health services must ensure everyone has access to the best support to quit.”

In England the responsibility for local tobacco control work, including commissioning community stop smoking services, was transferred to local authorities in 2013.

Redditch and Bromsgrove Clinical Commissioning Group has been approached for comment.