HEALTHCARE staff are being urged to intervene as it's revealed more than 8,000 people die from smoking in the south west every year.

Public Health England (PHE) wants all NHS frontline staff to take advantage of free online training to help them deliver effective stop smoking advice.

It comes as latest figures reveal 55,450 smokers end up in hospital across the region every year.

PHE says there is an urgent need across all parts of the NHS to support people to quit to improve the health of local populations and help secure the sustainability of the NHS.

For each patient referred to stop smoking services and prescribed nicotine replacement therapy, the NHS saves £13.00 each year for four years.

Russ Moody, tobacco control lead for PHE South West, said: "Every year smoking costs the NHS in England a staggering £2.6billion and in the south west alone causes around 8,674 deaths. For every death, another 20 more smokers are suffering from a smoking-related disease.

"Smokers respond well to healthcare staff giving advice and as health professionals we have a duty to take every opportunity to help end the needless, preventable misery and suffering smoking causes.

"A truly smokefree NHS isn’t just about banning smoking on hospital grounds, it’s about healthcare staff doing all they can to encourage patients and visitors, as well as colleagues to lead by example, to stop.

"The good news is that the training is easily accessible and effective.

Most smokers want to quit and all healthcare staff should seize the moment and be ready to intervene and have that crucial chat about smoking."