Published Wed, 2011-03-16 18:34; updated 1 year ago.

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A pioneering approach by NHS West Midlands to help people quit smoking has been included in the Government's new tobacco control plan.

The "payment by results" (PbR) framework – where healthcare providers receive money for preventing ill-health rather than solely for providing treatment – was introduced in the West Midlands in April 2010.

Healthcare providers in the region are paid to support people to lead healthier lives and avoid illness – so increasing the supply of health-improvement schemes. It also allows for non-NHS organisations to run some of the schemes, thereby giving patients a wider choice of effective services.

Now the Government has backed this approach in its plans to reduce smoking rates and tackle the damage caused by tobacco, which include regulations to put cigarette packets out of sight in shops and banning cigarette vending machines.

In Healthy Lives, Healthy People: A Tobacco Control Plan for England, published on 9 March, the Government says it supports the "introduction of a non-mandatory currency for smoking cessation services under the payment by results (PbR) framework in 2011/12, following the positive evaluation of the ongoing pilot of this approach in the West Midlands".

It says the PbR system is widely used within the NHS as a way of funding providers and is "designed to improve quality and efficiency, increase value for money and promote service innovation".

In the pilot scheme, payment is made on the basis of successful outcome: a healthcare provider is paid for each four-week and 12-week quitter. 

The Government will work with local authorities in rest of the country to "explore whether they wish to make use of this tariff-based approach, once the budget for health improvement services is transferred from PCTs to local authorities".

Peter Spilsbury, NHS West Midlands' director of strategy and innovation, said when the pilot scheme was announced in October 2009: “We recognise that there is more that we could do to prevent ill-health, such as helping people to stop smoking...Preventative measures and self-care are very cost-effective; it is estimated that the cost of providing a stop-smoking intervention is recouped within three years due to savings in NHS treatment costs.

"We hope that opening up the market, and introducing tariff payments, will encourage innovation and increase the number and range of these services available – providing more choice for the benefit of patients with long-term conditions and those trying to give up smoking."