COVID-19 restriction update

Throughout the pandemic we have strived to make the surgery as safe as possible for all our patients and staff. We will continue to do so going forward.

With the announcement from the Government that from 19th July they are likely to be lifting the majority of Covid restrictions, we have reviewed our procedures for the Practice. 

For the safety of all patients and staff alike, we respectfully ask that you wear a face covering when attending the surgery even after the 19th of July.

We also encourage patients not to come to the surgery to book appointments. Please call 01798 342 248 instead.

We will shortly re-open our waiting room with reduced capacity, keeping patient’s safety in mind.

For the time being our Dispensary will continue to function utilising the temporary dispensary hatch (window) that is accessible from outside of the building. (Right next to our main entrance).

As you know the Surgery is and has been open throughout the pandemic. Our GPs had been seeing patients face to face and it will remain that way.  – However because of Coronavirus the way patients are seen in primary care has predominantly changed.


  • If you need to speak to a doctor for any reason, please call between 08:30 and 11:00 on 01798 342 248 and our Patient Services Team members will assist you with signposting you to the most appropriate service, whether that is to speak to a Doctor, attend a pharmacy, minor injuries unit, etc. Please note, our Patient Services Team members have been trained to signpost and they will ask you questions in order to determine the best option for your care.You will be booked a telephone / video triage with a GP, as availability allows. If there are no routine appointments left for the morning you will be asked to call back after 14:00 or the next morning.


  • Our doctors are only able to offer same day appointments at this time (With a few exceptions – please see Paragraph 5 further down). Once triaged the GP may offer a face to face appointment.


  • If you call later than 11am, unless your call is urgent, you will be asked to call back after 14:00 or the next morning between 08:30 -11:00. 


  • Some clinical procedures that require a GP e.g. steroid injections or micro-suctioning will be pre-bookable.


  • Appointments with our nurses, HCAs and phlebotomist remain pre-bookable.


  • Extended Hours nurse appointments, phlebotomy appointments, Asthma, COPD reviews and Initial Physiotherapy appointments are bookable online, using your SystmOne Online account or the Airmid App.


Although the restrictions may be lifted nationally we will closely monitor the local COVID-19 infection rates and we may change our protocols and guidelines accordingly. This may affect your visit to the surgery.

All the above is to help protect both our patients and our staff and we kindly ask that you respectfully follow these requests.  


Thank you for your continued understanding and support.



Heartsmart 22.7.21

A new contract for sexual health and abortion care has been awarded across Sussex.

Following a robust procurement process, MSI Reproductive Choices has been awarded the contract for abortion care services across Brighton and Hove, East Sussex and West Sussex.

From the 1 July 2021, MSI Reproductive Choices will take over sexual health and abortion care across Sussex.

The new contract is designed to improve the quality of services provided to patients, to increase accessibility, and to make access more equitable for people living in all parts of Sussex.
MSI Reproductive Choices, will be opening three new clinics in Crawley, Hastings and Bognor Regis, as well as a new medical and surgical clinic in the heart of Brighton.

The four clinics commissioned by the three Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCG) in Sussex, will offer face to face appointments, while MSI's award-winning telemedicine service will enable eligible patients to receive consultations over the phone or video call and be supported to have care at home.

MSI's 24/7 helpline One Call (0345 300 8090) provides advice and consultations, with same day appointments available. An online chat service allows patients to consult quickly, confidentially and safely without the need to ring.

Unlimited counselling with independent counsellors registered with the British Association of Counselling and Psychotherapy is also available.

People will also be able to access a full range of contraception methods through the services, as well as STI screening for chlamydia, gonorrhoea, and HIV.

GP practices will be able to refer to the new service and patients will also be able to self-refer.

You can find out more about MSI Reproductive Choices at:

MSI Logo

General Practice Data for Planning and Research (GPDPR)

NHS Digital has been collecting data from GPs through its trusted General Practice Extraction Service. This system is now being replaced  from 1.9.21 with their new General Practice Data for Planning and Research (GPDPR) service, a broader general-purpose collection which will enable faster access to pseudonymised patient data for planners and researchers.

This more sophisticated extraction service will be working on things such as researching the long-term impact of coronavirus on the population,  analyzing healthcare inequalities and researching and developing cures for serious illnesses.

NHS Digital will collect:

  • data about diagnoses, symptoms, observations, test results, medications, allergies, immunisations, referrals, recalls and appointments, including information about physical, mental and sexual health
  • data on sex, ethnicity and sexual orientation
  • data about staff who have treated patients

NHS Digital does not collect:

  • name and address (except for postcode, protected in a unique coded form)
  • written notes (free text), such as the details of conversations with doctors and nurses
  • images, letters and documents
  • coded data that is not needed due to its age – for example medication, referral and appointment data that is over 10 years old
  • coded data that GPs are not permitted to share by law – for example certain codes about IVF treatment, and certain information about gender re-assignment

Patients can opt-out from NHS Digital COLLECTING their data (called a type 1 opt out) or dissent to NHS digital SHARING their data for planning and research (called a National data opt out).  If you wish to find more information about GPDPR including your right to opt out then please follow this link

You are able to opt our of GPDPR by clicking on the following link Make your choice about sharing data from your health records.

Data collection will start on 1 July 2021, if you do not want your data shared with NHS Digital this should be done by returning the form below to your GP practice by 23 June 2021 to allow time for processing it. You can send the form by post or email to your GP practice.

You can read the General Practice Data for Planning and Research: NHS Digital Transparency Notice HERE

Type+1+Opt-out+form (1).docx

Dr Knight maternity leave

Dr Knight will be on Maternity Leave from Monday the 17th May 2021 until December 2021
The Surgery is pleased to welcome back Dr Simon Pett to look after Dr Knight's patients during this time.

COVID Recovery Support

Finding yourself recovering from COVID and /or supporting your family member, relative or friend, following their COVID illness can be challenging. We hope the information within the NHS's COVID recovery website will give you reassurance and support during recovery. 

Update on COVID-19 Vaccination for patients at Petworth Surgery


Covid-19 Vaccination status

We have now shared the list of 55-59yrs of age with Riverbank Medical Centre, allowing for them to plan the next wave of the national covid-19 vaccination programme. Riverbank MC teams will contact patients directly to arrange an appointment.

Please see below the progress of each of the vaccination cohorts for Petworth patients. Many thanks to our colleagues at both Riverbank Medical Centre and Pulborough medical group for vaccinating our patients in cohorts 1-5.

Cohort 1 - (age 80+, HCW)

94.9 %

Cohort 2 (age 75-79)

95.8 %

Cohort 3 (age 70-74)

94.6 %

Cohort 4 (Shielding, CEV)

90.09 %

Cohort 5 (age 65 -69)


We have sent all relevant information to Riverbank however, if any patients in the above categories have not yet been called/offered a vaccine, please contact us at the surgery, any time after 4pm, to ensure we have correct and up to date contact information for you!

Many thanks for all your support.



General practice is now readying themselves for the JCVI cohort 6 which includes a wider group of people at higher clinical risk, including carers and young adults in residential settings. We have of course shared information with Riverbank Medical Centre, allowing for them to plan the next wave of the national covid-19 vaccination programme over the next few weeks.

Many of our patients may have received letters from NHSE informing them of their eligibility for the vaccination and information on how to book at a Mass vaccination site.

You can use this service to book a coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccination or manage your appointments.

Who can use this service

You can only use this service if any of the following apply:

  • you are aged 65 and over
  • you have previously received a letter saying you are at high risk from coronavirus (clinically extremely vulnerable)
  • you are an eligible frontline health worker
  • you are an eligible frontline social care worker
  • You also need to be registered with a GP surgery in England to use this service. You can register with a GP if you do not have one.

For more information visit:

Once again, we ask that you remain patient and do not call the practice for vaccination information.




Covid-19 Vaccination status

Please see below the progress of each of the vaccination cohorts for Petworth patients! Many thanks to our colleagues at both Riverbank Medical Centre and Pulborough medical group for vaccinating our patients in cohorts 1-4.

Cohort 1 - (age 80+, HCW)

93 %

Cohort 2 (age 75-79)

95.3 %

Cohort 3 (age 70-74)

93.6 %

Cohort 4 (Shielding, CEV)

90.03 %

We have sent all relevant information to Riverbank however, if any patients in the above categories have not yet been called/offered a vaccine, please contact us at the surgery, any time after 4pm, to ensure we have correct and up to date contact information for you!

Many thanks for all your support.




Covid-19 Vaccination status
Please see below the progress of each of the vaccination cohorts for Petworth patients! Many many thanks to our colleagues at both Riverbank medical centre and Pulborough medical group for vaccinating our patients in cohorts 1-4.
Cohort 1 - (age 80+, HCW)
Cohort 2 (age 75-79)
Cohort 3 (age 70-74)
Cohort 4 (Shielding, CEV)
We have sent all relevant information to Riverbank however, If any patients in the above categories have not yet been called/offered a vaccine, please contact us at the surgery, anytime after 4pm, to ensure we have correct and up to date contact information for you!
Many thanks for all your support



Dear Patients, we understand you are eager to get your Covid-19 vaccination jab, but please only call Riverbank Medical Centre if you are over 70 and / or shielding.
Riverbank Medical Centre are inundated with calls at present.
Please wait your turn. Many thanks



Covid-19 Vaccination Programme: Housebound patients
We have been working closely with Sussex Community Foundation trust, our community nursing team, to configure a plan to vaccinate our housebound patients.
Today we have been in contact with our housebound patients to arrange their covid vaccinations.
SECURITY NOTICE: SCFT community nursing team will only visit If we arranged the appointment with you.
Please do call the surgery if you or your family member have not yet been called and are housebound as per the definition below.
We will work to get you vaccinated as soon as possible.
Please note, a patient is housebound if they are unable to leave their home at all, or if they require significant assistance to leave the house due to illness, frailty, surgery, disability, mental ill health, or nearing end of life.



Update from Petworth Surgery on the COVID-19 vaccination programme: national vaccination letters

We are aware that some of our patients are starting to receive letters from the national vaccination booking system. The letter is labelled only from the NHS and invites you to book your vaccination appointment.

Please don’t worry, our service with Riverbank Medical Centre is not affected.

These letters are offering the opportunity to book an appointment at one of the larger vaccination centres, such as the Brighton Centre or a local pharmacy. You cannot book at our vaccination service through this system.

Riverbank Medical Centre is working alongside these other services.

You have a choice where you receive your vaccination – at Riverbank MC, at a larger vaccination centre like the Brighton Centre or at a local pharmacy service. Petworth Surgery is still waiting on a direct supply of the vaccine.

Riverbank MC teams will contact you directly to arrange an appointment. Appointments for the larger vaccination centres and pharmacies are available through the national booking system set out in the letter – either online or by phone.

You can either follow the details in the letter to book at one of those services, or you will be contacted in the next two weeks to arrange an appointment in our local service.

We thank you for your support.



Thanks to our colleagues Riverbank Medical Centre and Pulborough Medical Group, majority of our patients aged 75 & over, along with our care home residents, have now been vaccinated.
We have not yet had any updates regarding our own supply of the vaccine, nevertheless, we have shared our list of patients aged 70-74 as well as the shielding patient list with Riverbank Medical Centre. They will be in touch this week.
Please be ready when you are called. Rearranging appointments is not an easy task.
We are doing all we can to get you vaccinated, please do the same for us!
If you are over 75 yrs of age and haven't yet been offered an appointment, please call Riverbank Medical Centre. (01730 812121)
All other patients who haven't yet been vaccinated, please bare with us our teams will get in touch!



Covid-19 Vaccination update

We are still working hard to secure our own vaccine supply, we are nearly there!

In the meantime, Riverbank Medical Practice has now received their first batch of vaccinations. They will be in contact with our remaining over 80's within the next few days.

Once again, please do not contact the Surgery, their teams are working hard to to get you an appointment.

Thank you for your kind words of support!



Covid-19 vaccination programme UPDATE:

Whilst we await to see if the surgery will be approved to have its own vaccine supply, we have been in touch with Pulborough Medical Group and have secured some vaccines for our over 80’s.

We will make our way through the most vulnerable, those deemed to be of highest risk will be contacted first.

Once again, please do not contact the surgery. We will be in touch.



Update on COVID-19 Vaccination for patients at Petworth Surgery

We are delighted to share with you all that we have secured agreements so that we will be able to offer the COVID-19 vaccine at our surgery.

We take our responsibility to ensure you receive this vital protection extremely seriously and we are very pleased we can take this positive step forward.

We expect that subject to deliveries of the vaccine we will be able to start vaccinating our patients in the next two weeks.

Once we have confirmed delivery dates, we will plan our clinics and start to contact our patients in the first priority group – those who are over 80 - to begin with.

We appreciate all of the support that there has been for the surgery and our team from our patients as we have sought to make these arrangements for our patients.

We would also like to thank our partners at the CCG and in the community, including Andrew Griffiths MP, for their support and we look forward to continuing to work with you all as we roll out this vaccination programme. We would also like to extend a special thanks to our Practice Manager, Hafiza Bhabha, who has worked tirelessly on this for months.

As we work to plan for vaccination clinics, we kindly ask that you do not call the surgery to enquire about vaccination appointments. We will call you as soon as an appointment is available.



Health and care workforce vaccinations

St Richards hospital has started to vaccinate Health and social care workers.

The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) recommended that health and care staff are among the first people to be offered the vaccine in order to prevent death and protect health and social care staff and systems.

Colleagues, please visit the link below for more information and details on how to book.



Covid 19 Vaccination.

We applied to be a vaccination site in November 2020 and this was refused. Since then we have been working tirelessly on this.

Our practice team are all ready and willing to administer the vaccinations.

Despite almost daily contact with the CCG and from Andrew Griffith, our local MP, exploring every avenue, we have still not received authorisation to be a vaccination site.

Unfortunately, Pulborough does not have the capacity to undertake Petworth immunisations at this stage of the programme.

Riverbank surgery in Midhurst have offered to undertake immunisations for our patients once they have started to immunise their own patients. Unfortunately, however their vaccination deliveries have been delayed.

To be clear, the power and decisions here are not ours- the decisions about this are made centrally by NHS England. We are challenging this in every way we can. As a clinical and management team we are ready and eager to commence immunising our patients however without vaccine supply and authorisation from NHS England and the CCG we cannot.

We share your extreme frustrations about this.

We would kindly ask however that abuse towards practice staff venting frustrations about this cease and that you support our attempts to deliver a vaccination programme at Petworth surgery by directing your concerns to the CCG, NHS England



Covid-19 Vaccination programme update:

Petworth Surgery and Riverbank Medical Practice have been working tirelessly to secure vaccination provision for our patients.

As you can see from the post below, Riverbank Medical Practice has suffered major delays with the delivery of the vaccine. Once a vaccine schedule is confirmed we will be in a better position to inform you of any updates.

In the mean time, we are exploring as many avenues as we can to get the vaccine into our patients' arms. Please be assured we are doing everything in our power to get our patients vaccinated as soon as possible.

Once again, please do not phone the surgery regarding the vaccine. We will be in touch.



Covid-19 Vaccination Programme

Central Government and NHSE have been working with our local Clinical Commissioning group to plan and prepare for the Covid-19 vaccination programme.

Due to the challenges with the vaccine, we are unable to offer this at present.

Local NHS will arrange for patients to be vaccinated at a designated site.

Please do not telephone or contact us regarding the Covid-19 vaccination. You will be contacted by NHS England when you are eligible.



We are pleased to hear the news that a COVID19 vaccine has been approved by the MHRA.

We are currently awaiting further details/guidance from NHS England about the delivery of this vaccination program.

What we know from previous communications is that:

A prioritisation list has been produced in order for the vaccine to be delivered to groups who will need it first. The NHS will contact you when you are eligible to receive the vaccine and provide you with information about location and date.

The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) have recently published updated advice on the priority groups to receive COVID-19 vaccine, advising that vaccines should first be given to care home residents and staff, followed by people aged over 80 and health and social care workers, before being rolled out to the rest of the population in order of age and risk. The NHS is working with local councils and social care providers to establish a roving vaccine delivery service for care homes and for those who are unable to leave their homes.

We will give you further updates once becomes available. At the meanwhile we encourage people to have their flu vaccination as soon as possible in preparation for the winter.

Retirement of Dr Simon Pett

As you will know I retired from the Surgery on 31 December after 30 years as a Partner at the Practice. Over that time I have had the privilege to provide medical care to Patients of the Practice. I have also had the fortune to have worked with a committed and supportive team at the surgery and also been lucky to be able to hand over to Dr Dawn Thompson who has been working at the surgery for the past 16 months.

On my retirement day I was unexpectedly presented with a card and generous gifts from patients of the surgery. This was a wonderful surprise and I would like to give my thanks to both those who signed the card and those who wished to remain anonymous. There must have been inside information since the gifts included amazon and Lego vouchers (I had been talking for some weeks about building the Lego colosseum). I have also received many cards of thanks and good wishes! Thank you all very much.

Thank you to all patients and surgery staff who have made my time at Petworth so enjoyable.

With all my very best wishes 

Simon Pett

Vitamin D Supplements Information for patients


Why is Vitamin D important?

Vitamin D is a hormone made in our bodies in the presence of sunlight. It is also found in small amounts in foods. Vitamin D is essential for bone and muscle health, and supports a healthy immune system.


Do I need to take Vitamin D supplements?

During winter, and ideally all year round, children from one year old and adults in the UK should take a daily supplement containing at least 400 international units (IU) of Vitamin D. This is equivalent to 10 micrograms (μg).

This is because there is not enough sunlight in the UK during winter (October to March) for the body to make its own Vitamin D. Whilst Vitamin D is in some foods, it is difficult for most people to get enough from food alone.

Many people do not get enough vitamin D from sunlight, even during the summer, because they have little or no sunshine exposure, or a reduced ability to make Vitamin D.


You should take a daily supplement containing at least 400 IU (10 micrograms) of Vitamin D all year round, if one or more of the following applies to you:

  • You are shielding due to Covid-19
  • You wear clothes that cover up most of the skin when outdoors
  • You are housebound, work indoors during the day, or are a night shift worker
  • You have darker skin, for example of African, African-Caribbean, Asian or Middle-Eastern descent
  • You are over the age of 65
  • You are pregnant or breastfeeding

Infants and children under four, who are taking less than 500ml of infant formula a day should also take 340-400 IU (8.5-10 micrograms) of Vitamin D per day, and may be eligible for free supplements on the Healthy Start Scheme.


Is it possible to take too much Vitamin D?

Some supplements contain a higher dose, such as 800 IU (20 micrograms). These are also safe and effective. However, taking more than 4000 IU (100 micrograms) of Vitamin D a day for a long time could be harmful. If you have purchased supplements containing a higher dose than this, take them less frequently so your overall intake is lower. Children under 10 should not take more than 2000 IU (50 micrograms) per day.


Will taking Vitamin D supplements help prevent Covid-19?

The direct link between Vitamin D and Covid-19 prevention and treatment is still being established.

Approved by Surrey Heartlands MM Cell Surrey Heartlands MMT Version 2 23 December 2020


Is there Vitamin D in my existing medications?

Vitamin D is often contained in calcium supplements, because the body needs Vitamin D to absorb calcium. ‘One a Day’ Multivitamin and Mineral supplements, and some Oral Nutritional Supplements also contain Vitamin D at the recommended amount, so if you take any of these, you may already be getting enough Vitamin D. If you are unsure, check with your pharmacist.


Can I get free or prescribed vitamin D?

Vitamin D is not routinely prescribed. This is because supplements are widely available to buy.

Those who have been advised to shield due to Covid-19 may be at risk of Vitamin D deficiency if they have spent little time outdoors. Therefore, in January 2021, The UK Government will deliver four months’ supply of Vitamin D supplements to those who are extremely clinically vulnerable to Covid-19.

If you are eligible, you will have received a letter inviting you to opt-in to receive the supplements. If you think you are eligible and haven’t received a letter, you can opt in by visiting The NHS website - NHS ( and typing ‘get Vitamin D’ into the search bar.

Vitamin D can be prescribed in higher doses for people who have persistent symptoms suggesting Vitamin D deficiency, which is confirmed by a blood test. Unless you have symptoms of Vitamin D deficiency you do not need to be tested, as meeting the recommended intake every day is usually enough to maintain adequate Vitamin D levels.


Which supplement should I buy?

Supplements containing 400 IU (10 micrograms) are available to purchase from pharmacies, supermarkets and online. Vitamin D is available in two forms, vitamin D3 (colecalciferol), and vitamin D2 (ergocalciferol). Vitamin D3 is usually from animal sources, and vitamin D2 is from plant sources.


My relative lives in a care home, how do they get Vitamin D supplements?

In January 2021, the UK Government will deliver four months’ supply of Vitamin D supplements to all care home residents. Residents do not need to opt in and these will be supplied automatically. 


Where can I find out more?

BDA Food Factsheet: Vitamin D:


NHS information on Vitamin D:


Vitamin D supplementation in winter:


We received this beautiful canvas painting from a patient of the surgery. 

Thank you Caroline! You have made our day! 

You can find more of Caroline's art on her website:

Gynaecology clinic at Petworth Surgery


We are delighted to say that Petworth surgery will, again, be providing gynaecology services.

Dr Amanda Gilliland will be holding a clinic once a month on a Wednesday.

The first clinic will be on the 16th of December 2020

She will be doing:

Coil insertion, removal and change

Implant insertion, removal and change

Pessary insertion, change. 

To book appointments or for more info please call our reception on 01798 342248

Mjog Smart App


We are glad to announce that the MJog messenger app is now available to download. The app makes it easier to manage your communication and healthcare with the surgery. For more info and to download the app go to Mjog .


MJog Messenger is designed as a health messaging app for patients and is used by thousands of GPs across the UK to deliver health information, health advice and access to specialist online health services which have been recommended by your GP.


Why you should install MJog Messenger

  • It is free and makes responding to messages extremely quick and easy
  • Get your health information direct (including results and reviews)
  • Instant notifications let you know when a new message is received
  • Saves you time and saves your Practice money
  • Messages are sent securely and you can PIN protect access to MJog Messenger

Please wear a mask

In line with government guidance, we kindly request that ALL patients aged 2 and above wear a face covering when attending the surgery.

Face coverings can be purchased from various online retailers.

For guidance on how to make your own visit:…/how-to-wear-and-make-a-cloth-face-cove…

Additionally: Since yesterday 15th of June 2020 Face coverings became mandatory on public transport.
The introduction of the requirement for people to wear face covering on Public Transport is intended to help prevent the spread of the Covid-19 virus.

There are certain groups of people who are exempt from this requirement and they include:

children under the age of 11,
people with disabilities
those with breathing difficulties or
those who are travelling with someone who relies on lip reading.
These groups of people, their parents or guardians are able to indicate the reason, if required, as to why they are not wearing a face covering.

General practice is under considerable pressure as a direct result of the current challenges they are faced with delivering a service to patients at the same time as coping with the consequences of this virus.

There is no requirement for general practice to issue letters for patients who are unable to wear face coverings, as the Government have clearly defined the exemptions to this requirement.

General practice needs to focus all its time and effort managing those who need their help and not be diverted from this by unnecessary tasks.

However should you need something in writing to prove your exemeption from having to wear a mask you can apply for an exemption card ( costs £0.55p) at the below link.

Face Covering Exempt Card

For more info visit:

Please wear face mask

Covid-19  The compulsory wearing of face covering in shops
The introduction of the requirement for people to wear face covering in shops is intended to help prevent the spread of the Covid-19 virus.

There are certain groups of people who are exempt from this requirement and they include:

  • children under the age of 11,
  • people with disabilities
  • those with breathing difficulties or
  • those who are travelling with someone who relies on lip reading.

These groups of people, their parents or guardians are able to indicate the reason, if required, as to why they are not wearing a face covering.

General practice is under considerable pressure as a direct result of the current challenges they are faced with delivering a service to patients at the same time as coping with the consequences of this virus.
There is no requirement for general practice to issue letters for patients who are unable to wear face coverings, as the Government have clearly defined the exemptions to this requirement.
General practice needs to focus all its time and effort managing those who need their help and not be diverted from this by unnecessary tasks.
Many thanks for your help and support in this matter.



These FAQs are an annex to the #QuitForCovid communications toolkit, and are designed to answer any questions you may have about quitting smoking during the COVID-19 pandemic. This is a living document and will be updated as the evidence evolves. The FAQs have been reviewed by a range of clinical and academic experts including researchers who are part of SPECTRUM, a multi-disciplinary Consortium of ten Universities funded by the UK Prevention Research Partnership (UKPRP).

Is it appropriate to be encouraging smokers to quit right now?

To encourage smokers to quit right now is in line with Public Health England guidance issued on 29 May. The guidance states that “On the available evidence, we advise:

  • if you smoke, you generally have an increased risk of contracting respiratory infection and of moresevere symptoms once infected. COVID-19 symptoms may, therefore, be more severe if you smoke
  • stopping smoking will bring immediate benefits to your health, including if you have an existingsmoking-related disease. This is particularly important for both you and for our NHS at a time of intensepressure on the health service

”The evidence of the mortality and morbidity caused by smoking is well established, backed by a considerable body of research over more than seventy years. There are 5.9 million smokers in the UK and smoking remains the leading cause of premature death, killing nearly 80,000 people a year in England alone. For every person who dies from smoking, at least 30 people live with a serious smoking-related illness such as cancer, heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), which includes emphysema and chronic bronchitis.

Smokers are at increased risk of viral and bacterial infections including pneumonia, risks which can immediately be reduced by quitting. There is also some evidence that current smoking compared with never smoking is associated with greater disease severity in those hospitalised for COVID-19. This is significant health information, which smokers have a right to know, and they need to be supported to take steps to quit or abstain from smoking at this time.

As well as increased risks associated with COVID-19, people who smoke are more likely to develop health conditions that require hospital care. People who smoke account for 489,000 hospital admissions per year in England, and current smokers are around 30% more likely to require hospital admission than non-smokers.Quitting confers immediate benefits – for example improved blood pressure, reduced respiratory infections and heart disease – that can help ease pressure on the NHS. 

Most smokers report wanting to quit and have tried before and recent surveys find that COVID-19 is increasing smokers desire to quit, although many are finding it difficult to do so. There is some evidence already that the #QuitForCovid message resonates with smokers. A survey of local authorities’ responses to lockdown, carried out in April and May, found that just under a quarter had seen an increase in traffic to their stop smoking services. Of these services, all bar one had specifically targeted smokers in their area with COVID-19 messaging in their communications, with proactive offers of support made directly to smokers being especially effective. Now is a teachable moment when smokers are particularly keen to improve their health and wellbeing and protect those around them.

Secondhand smoke in the home and other enclosed spaces also pose a risk to others, increasing the likelihood that those exposed will need hospital treatment. There is no risk-free level of exposure to secondhand smoke, which has been shown to cause lung cancer, serious respiratory and cardiovascular disease. Unborn children and babies are particularly at risk; secondhand smoke can cause miscarriage and stillbirth, sudden infant death, meningitis, middle ear disease, and both causes and exacerbates respiratory diseases like asthma. Adults with existing health conditions like high blood pressure, respiratory problems and heart disease are also particularly at risk. Smokers should take every effort to protect those around them from exposure.

People have raised the possibility that smoking might have a protective effect. What is the truth in this?

The COVID-19 outbreak was first identified last December, and was declared a pandemic less than three months ago, so evidence of the impact of smoking on COVID-19 is still mixed and developing.

The Zoe symptom study, where more than 2.4 million people in the UK recorded any symptoms in an App, found that current smokers were more likely to report classic symptoms of COVID-19 (cough, fever and breathlessness ) and also to report other symptoms, including loss of the sense of smell which appears to be very specific to COVID-19.

However, early reports suggest that the percentage of those attending hospital for COVID-19 who were recorded as current smokers was less than might be expected, given population-level smoking rates. These findings are uncertain, because there are likely inaccuracies in the recording of smoking, differences in who qualifies for testing and the comparisons between different groups are difficult, especially during a pandemic, which dynamically affects different groups as it spreads through the population.

It is also the case that current smokers who receive a test in the community are less likely to be positive for the virus compared with never smokers. This finding may be explained by differences in who met the criteria for testing. Smokers may have been more likely to have relevant symptoms, such as a cough, despite not having the virus.

There is some evidence to suggest that smokers who contract COVID-19 and are treated in hospital have an increased risk of severe illness compared to non-smokers. However, although the evidence is growing, it remains uncertain. Smoking also damages endothelial cells, which line blood vessels and
play an important role in controlling blood pressure and the immune system’s response to inflammation. This damage contributes to endothelial dysfunction, which is an early sign of cardiovascular disease.Research shows that endothelial dysfunction is driving severe complications among people with COVID-19 which could explain the association between smoking and more severe disease in people who are hospitalised. The damage smoking does to these cells may put smokers at increased risk from COVID-19. When smokers quit, there is a rapid improvement in endothelial function, meaning that quitting can enable the body to rapidly repair cells that are implicated in the severe progression of COVID-19 illness.

There are some theoretical reasons why nicotine, which modifies the immune system and is the active drug in tobacco, might be protective. A clinical trial is underway in France19 to see whether nicotine patches can help prevent or lessen symptoms of COVID-19. This should not put smokers off trying to quit, but encourage them to use alternative sources of nicotine to help them stay quit. Smokers are also much more likely to succeed in quitting smoking if they use alternative forms of nicotine – such as patches, gum, and e-cigarettes – all of which are far less harmful than smoking.

The mixed and developing evidence on smoking and COVID-19 should be put in the context of the known risks of smoking which are well established from a considerable body of research. Millions of people around the world have been followed through their life course to identify the long-term impacts of smoking and benefits of quitting. Smoking damages the heart and lungs and weakens the immune system. This makes it more likely that smokers will get complications and take longer to recover from illnesses. Overall, smokers are five times as likely to get influenza and twice as likely to get pneumonia as non-smokers.

The weight of the evidence is clear, that carrying on smoking will always be more harmful than quitting. At this time as for any other, smokers can improve their health and wellbeing by quitting.

How can people tell the difference between nicotine withdrawal symptoms and COVID-19 symptoms?

People who have recently stopped smoking may experience nicotine withdrawal symptoms, which can include cravings, irritability, and difficulty concentrating. These symptoms are usually temporary and disappear after about 2 to 6 weeks.

Other symptoms of nicotine withdrawal might include a cough or sore throat, which are usually also temporary. These withdrawal symptoms could be confused with the symptoms of COVID-19. It is important to remember that a temperature, or a sudden loss of taste or smell, is not a symptom of nicotine withdrawal.

Using alternative forms of nicotine – such as patches, gum, and e-cigarettes – can relieve the worst of the nicotine withdrawal symptoms. This may help you to avoid confusing symptoms. It will also greatly improve chances of quitting successfully. Anyone concerned that they may have COVID-19 should use the NHS 111 symptoms checker or phone NHS 111 for further advice. 

What should we be saying about vaping right now?

E-cigarettes are the most popular aid to quitting smoking in England. While not completely risk free,switching completely to vaping is significantly less harmful than continuing to smoke. E-cigaretteshave been shown to increase success rates in a stop smoking service setting, as well as in thecommunity. For people who do not smoke or have never smoked, the advice is to not start vapingas it is not risk-free.

These messages are consistent with the PHE guidance1 to smokers and vapers published on 29 May which states that:

  • e-cigarettes (vapes) can be an effective aid to stopping smoking and staying smokefree
  • it is currently unknown what effect vaping may have on susceptibility to severe disease if you areinfected with COVID-19
  • for most people vaping remains significantly less harmful than smoking and it is very importantthat you avoid returning to smoking.


What is the advice for people starting, or continuing to use, nicotine replacement therapy and e-cigarettes to help them stop smoking?

For people who smoke, stop smoking medications like nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) and varenicline, or consumer products like e-cigarettes, can help reduce cravings and manage withdrawal symptoms experienced when quitting. These products can improve chances of quitting smoking, and when combined with specialist support from a stop smoking service, give people the best chance of successfully quitting for the long-term.

For people who are already using nicotine products to help them stop smoking, it is safe to continue to do so. NRT is licensed by the UK’s medicines regulator the MHRA for long-term use to help smokers quit and prevent relapse. Current smokers, who are considering quitting and want to know more about medications that can help, should look at NHS Smokefree information on stop smoking medications or talk to their doctor, pharmacist or local stop smoking service, where one is available (this can be checked on the NHS Smokefree website) E-cigarettes are far less harmful than smoking and have been shown to be effective in helpingsmokers quit and preventing relapse back to smoking. 

What is the advice for people quitting during pregnancy?

Advice to pregnant smokers remains that they should attempt to quit as soon as possible and seek support from their midwife or through a local stop smoking service.

When a woman smokes or is exposed to secondhand smoke during pregnancy, oxygen passed to the baby is restricted, making the baby’s heart work faster and exposing the baby to harmful toxins. As a result, exposure to tobacco smoke during pregnancy increases rates of stillbirth, miscarriage and birth defects. Stopping smoking is therefore one of the best things a woman and her partner can do to protect their health and the health of their baby through pregnancy and beyond.

NRT is safe to use during pregnancy and can increase the chances of quitting successfully, especially when combined with specialist help from local stop smoking services.

The priority is to be smokefree. If vaping is helping women to manage nicotine withdrawal and stay smokefree, women should be reassured that vaping is much less harmful to themselves and their baby than continuing to smoke and they should continue to vape.

When people are stressed, aren’t they going to smoke more?

Feeling stressed is a common reason that ex-smokers give for returning to smoking, and for current smokers to smoke more. During this stressful period, smokers and ex-smokers may need more support to ensure they do not look to cigarettes as a coping mechanism.

If people are concerned about returning to smoking or increasing the amount they smoke, they can use other sources of nicotine like nicotine replacement therapy or e-cigarettes to help manage cravings. E-cigarettes are now the most popular quitting aid and have been shown to increase success rates in a stop smoking service setting as well as in the community.

It is a common belief that smoking helps people to relax. In reality, smoking increases anxiety and tension. Smoking reduces nicotine withdrawal symptoms, which are similar to (and can be mistaken for) symptoms of stress and anxiety, but it does not reduce stress or deal with the underlying causes.

As well as improving physical health, stopping smoking can boost mental health and wellbeing. Quitting smoking is associated with reductions in depression and anxiety and improvement in positive mood compared with continuing to smoke.

COVID-19 is also causing financial stress. Quitting smoking can help people save money and lift households out of poverty. In June 2020 the minimum price for a pack of 20 cigarettes on sale online is £7.95,40 so someone smoking 10 cigarettes a day would spend a minimum of £1,450 a year, £120 a month and £28 a week. For a couple that means £2,900 a year, £240 a month and £56 a week – enough to pay for regular food shops or a family holiday.

Alternatively, if smokers switch to nicotine replacement therapy, they can save nearly £700 a year, and smokers switching to e-cigarettes can save around £800.

Don’t we need tobacco taxes to pay for the NHS?

Smoking costs society substantially more than it raises through tobacco taxation, with estimated costs of £12.5 billion a year to society – including £8.9 billion in lost productivity, £2.4 billion to the NHS and £880 million in social care costs.

When smokers quit, they spend the money they would have spent on tobacco on other products and continue to pay tax. However, they are more likely to be buying products which benefit their local economy more than tobacco and very unlikely to be purchasing products that have a similar level of harm to health. Smoking is also a driver of poverty; analysis of UK Government data carried out for ASH shows around 447,000 households in the UK are currently living in poverty due to smoking.

Most immediately, a detailed analysis published by the Royal College of Physicians shows that investing in smoking cessation support actually saves hospitals money in the same year, because the health benefits are so rapid.

What support is available to smokers right now?

Face to face support is not currently available, but a recent survey of local authorities found that 96% are providing support for smokers to quit, including telephone and video conferencing consultations, and 88% are providing stop smoking medications or e-cigarettes to smokers. However, the configuration of services will vary, and we recommend communications leads work with commissioners and service providers to clarify calls to action.

In addition, online support is available through the twitter ‘Quit Clinic’ where people can put their questions to leading smoking cessation experts. Smokers and healthcare professionals can tweet their questions using #QuitForCovid and following @QuitForCovid. Information and advice for smokers is also available through the Today is the Day website.

The NHS Smokefree website is a national support platform to help smokers quit and includes information on support to quit, as well as free tools such as the Personal Quit Plan and the Smokefree app, and daily support via e-mail or Facebook Messenger.

People are very aware of their health at the moment, and there is growing evidence from surveys that people who smoke are more likely to want to quit and stay quit as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

How can I support Quit for COVID as well as my local stop smoking support?

You can use the Quit for COVID messages to help promote your local stop smoking support and ensure smokers are aware of the options available to them.

There are a range of ways in which localities have successfully been reaching out to smokers with good results. Encouraging GP practices to send text messages advertising local services to all smokers on their records; contacting former stop smoking service clients and those lost to follow-up to advertise support offers; and communications activity using Facebook and local media; have all resulted in increased numbers accessing the services.

Only a small proportion of smokers will access specialist support to quit, but it is important that all smokers are informed about the risks of smoking and COVID-19 and encouraged to try to stop smoking. Promoting the national Quit for COVID campaign can help ensure all smokers have the information they need about the importance of quitting.

Using the hashtag #QuitForCovid on Twitter and promoting information about local support through Facebook pages are important online channels for communicating with smokers and local healthcare professionals.

Email for the Quit For COVID Communications Toolkit which contains key messages, template social media assets, press releases and content suggestions to engage local smokers.

Dementia Connect banner

Alzheimer’s Society countywide continuous to offer to support Carers and People Affected by Dementia during the COVID19 pandemic.

All group activities service users are receiving regular welfare checks and connected via the delivery of virtual groups where possible.

The Dementia Advisors/Support Workers are providing welfare checks with their current caseload and telephone assessments with all new referrals. Those who are considered most vulnerable are being prioritised and referred into the relevant services.

Companion Calls are also a great new interim service that joins up our service users with a volunteer for a friendly chat. People are being devastated by isolation and loneliness right now and these calls will really help.

Locally, their ask is that people phone them for any support they need throughout the outbreak as they have a full team of home based staff and volunteers available at present. Make contact via  / 01403 213017 and they will respond as soon as possible.

The Dementia Connect Support Line remains open on 0333 150 3456 every day. Dementia Talking Point, their online community, where people affected by dementia can receive valuable support, can be accessed online for free, night or day, through their website