Winner: Stoke-on-Trent PCT

An 'excellent' social marketing project that set out to reduce smoking rates during pregnancy in Stoke-on-Trent and was judged nationally replicable

This is a National Social Marketing Centre pilot site and used the centre's 10 benchmark criteria, initially targeting the neighbourhoods of Bentilee and Meir.

The judges praised this as an "excellent project that scored highly on all criteria". It is, they added, "highly replicable - potentially at national level".

The objective was to understand more fully the needs of pregnant smokers and identify barriers to accessing existing services.

Specifically, the project set out to: explore what it is like to be a pregnant smoker in Stoke-on-Trent; identify factors that influence the behaviour of pregnant smokers; increase the recruitment of pregnant smokers to the stop-smoking service; and review and redesign the existing stop-smoking service.

As a result of this work, the programme gained insight into how future service delivery should be repositioned. The women said they wanted help in an informal group setting, with an element of "me time".

A pilot intervention which includes a new themed stop-smoking club was developed. Sessions at the club include relaxation therapy, which provides the desired "me time" and helps women learn new techniques that will help them to quit smoking.

The group sessions have produced an average conversion rate of 60 per cent from a set quit date to four weeks later. Group members report increased self-esteem and well-being. At the end of 2007-08, the service had delivered 121 four-week quitters, compared with 38 in 2006-07.

Reduce smoking rates during pregnancy, contact deborah.richardson@stokepct.nhs.uk

Highly Commended: NHS Norfolk

Staff at Breckland District Council were supported to identify, design and deliver improvements to eating behaviours at work. The council did not have a canteen and its location on a rural industrial estate meant there were no local food outlets.

The main objective was to make healthy options easiest. Interventions were designed by an unconventional mix of experts: a local chef, academics, dieticians and designers.

The greatest impact has been a culture of change. Staff have continued to introduce new interventions, including a bicycle loan scheme and weight-loss club.

The judges were impressed by the "excellent mix of interventions".

Experience food at work, contact martin.seymour@norfolk-pct.nhs.uk

Finalist: Forster

Forster carried out a social marketing campaign in Lambeth and Southwark to encourage blood pressure checks in a number of groups, including white men aged 35 to 60.

Marketing approaches were developed following research with focus groups. The men responded well to a humorous approach and a campaign called "What raises yours?" was developed, with materials placed in betting shops, pub washrooms, newsagents, Millwall Football Club and Costcutter stores.

An Ipsos Mori evaluation suggests that 35,000 people are likely to have a blood pressure check and 10,000 people may have already had one because of the campaign.

The modernisation initiative, contact gillian@forster.co.uk

Finalist: North East Lincolnshire Care Trust Plus

Cancer mortality was diminishing overall in North East Lincolnshire, but the gap in outcomes between the most affluent and the most disadvantaged communities was getting wider. In addition to inequalities in relation to cancer tumours, there were local inequalities in civic engagement.

The project has generated a 32 per cent increased awareness of cancer symptoms and a 10 per cent increase in reported willingness to act on symptoms. Referrals increased by 29 per cent for bowel cancer, 61 per cent for prostate cancer and 8.5 per cent for gynaecological cancers.

The early presentation of cancer symptoms programme, contact adrian@uni.gb.com

Finalist: Walsall teaching PCT and West Midlands Cervical Screening Quality Assurance Reference Centre

A campaign to increase cervical screening in 25-29-year-olds by 12 per cent over three years was launched in March 2008. Young women interviewed said: "The whole experience is pants", leading to the advertisement: "What's pants, but could save your life?"

The campaign cost£55,000 in year one, including marketing on buses, a two-week campaign on HeartFM and on www.pants.nhs.uk.

During the first two months of the campaign, one laboratory had already reported a 27 per cent increase in tests received from women aged 25-39.

"What's pants, but could save your life?", contact martin.turner@walsall.nhs.uk