NHS priorities

Whether it’s to prepare for the next Pharmacy Quality Scheme deadline, or to increase your confidence in helping people with a learning disability, this section provides topic-specific pages that link to current NHS priorities. This section will support you in keeping your knowledge and skills up to date in order to provide high-quality pharmacy services and be service-ready.

Clinical pharmacy

Our clinical portfolio is expanding on a frequent basis, helping you to advance your knowledge and skills and deliver medicines optimisation in practice for all sectors of pharmacy. From two new focal points a year to our small group learning for hospital pharmacists – Optimise – this section focuses on clinical pharmacy, diseases and therapeutics.

Public health

The public health agenda is embedded in pharmacy, yet topics such as emergency contraception or stop smoking support are as prevalent as ever. As well as our public health workshops, use this section to access a wide range of resources to assure and maintain your competence, all underpinned by the Declaration of Competence system.

NHS Smoking Cessation Service

Smoking is the single greatest cause of preventable death, disability and ill-health in the UK.1 There is plenty of evidence supporting the effectiveness of pharmacy-based stop smoking services.2 In 2019, the Community Pharmacy Contractual Framework was released and outlined how the government recognised the valuable role pharmacy teams can play in helping people stop smoking. This NHS Smoking Cessation Service builds on the current stop smoking services that community pharmacy teams offer, and this page has been developed in order to support you to deliver this service.

The NHS Long Term Plan has adopted the Ottawa Model for Smoking Cessation (OMSC), which originated in Canadian hospitals, as a way to reduce smoking rates in England.3 This model identifies the smoking status of all admitted patients, followed by brief advice, personalised bedside consultation, timely nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) and/or pharmacotherapy, and follow-up after discharge.4 Please note that varenicline is not included as an option – this service covers NRT only. This is due to the ongoing long-term varenicline production and supply issues.

Incorporating community pharmacy into the treatment pathway for people who want to quit smoking will improve the health of England’s population and reduce the burden on NHS resources. An example of the use of the Ottawa model is the CURE project, which was implemented in Wythenshawe hospital in Greater Manchester.

This service allows pharmacists and pharmacy technicians working in community practice to manage the continuing provision of smoking cessation services initiated in secondary care. The information on this page will help you to prepare to deliver this service.

The first step in becoming ready to deliver this service is accessing and working through the service specification. You will find further background information in this document. Click the button below to access the service specification via the NHS England website.

NHS Smoking Cessation Advanced Service - service specification

The service specification outlines the essential training that pharmacists and pharmacy technicians need to complete before delivering this service. This training is delivered by the National Centre for Smoking Cessation and Training (NCSCT). We have outlined essential training below and provided a link to training that the wider pharmacy team may find beneficial. The NCSCT offers a Clinical Enquiries Service which supports clinical practice. The enquiries team can be emailed clinical enquiries that are then usually triaged and sent to a specialist clinical consultant: enquiries@ncsct.co.uk. Please note that this email address should be used for enquiries about smoking cessation treatment and not about the details of the service itself.

If you would like further information about this service, you can access Community Pharmacy England's information pages.

Click on the following tabs to find further information and directions on how to access the training.

Essential training

As per the service specification, pharmacists and pharmacy technicians must have satisfactorily completed the below training and passed the associated assessment (where applicable).

National Centre for Smoking Cessation and Training (NCSCT) Stop Smoking Practitioner Certification

This training can be accessed via the National Centre for Smoking Cessation and Training (NCSCT) website.

Here you will find the Practitioner training and the Assessment of core knowledge and key practice skills.

You will be required to register with the NCSCT in order to access this training.

Pharmacists or pharmacy technicians who are already certified do not need to repeat their training for the purposes of this service.

Once you have passed, your name will appear on the certified practitioner list on the NCSCT website and you will be eligible to take the Mental health and smoking cessation and Pregnancy and smoking cessation learning modules.

Specialist NCSCT modules to support treatment for people with a mental health condition and pregnant women

This training can be accessed via the National Centre for Smoking Cessation and Training (NCSCT) website.

These speciality modules can only be completed after you have successfully completed the NCSCT Stop Smoking Practitioner Certification.

NCSCT module on using e-cigarettes (Vaping: a guide for healthcare professionals)

NCSCT Standard Treatment Programme (STP)

Pharmacists and pharmacy technicians must have read the NCSCT Standard Treatment Programme (STP), and should use this valuable tool containing key steps and information to support the consultations.

It is important that you regularly check this page for updates to the STP, and we recommend that you register to receive alerts, such as updates, so that you are aware of any changes that are made to the page.

Training to support the pharmacy team

Although this service must be provided by a pharmacist or a pharmacy technician, the NCSCT offers training that can be used by the wider pharmacy team to improve their knowledge of smoking cessation.

Very Brief Advice on Smoking (VBA+) NCSCT module (30 minutes)

This training can be accessed via the National Centre for Smoking Cessation and Training (NCSCT) website.

Very Brief Advice on Smoking (VBA+) is designed to promote quitting and can be delivered in almost any situation with a smoker in less than 30 seconds.

Members of the pharmacy team can register with the NCSCT and access this learning module.


  1. Royal College of Physicians. Smoking and health 2021: a coming of age for tobacco control? 2021 https://www.rcplondon.ac.uk/projects/outputs/smoking-and-health-2021-coming-age-tobacco-control
  2. NHS London Clinical Senate. Helping smokers quit. July 2016. www.londonsenate.nhs.uk/wp-content/uploads/2022/07/London-Helping-Smokers-Quit-Report-July-2016.pdf
  3. NHS. Online version of the NHS Long Term Plan. Chapter 2: More NHS action on prevention and health inequalities. Smoking. No date. www.longtermplan.nhs.uk/online-version/chapter-2-more-nhs-action-on-prevention-and-health-inequalities/smoking/
  4. Reid, R., Mullen, K., Slovinec D’Angelo, M., Aitken, D., Papadakis, S., Haley, P., McLaughlin, C. & Pipe, A. Smoking cessation for hospitalized smokers: An evaluation of the “Ottawa Model”. Nicotine & Tobacco Research.2010;12 (1), 11-18. https://doi.org/10.1093/ntr/ntp165