In his first speech since taking up his post, Mr Lansley outlined his plans for making patients the driving force for improvements in the NHS so that “no decision is made about me, without me.” 

But even before the coalition Government, Knowsley Health & Wellbeing has been dedicated to empowering patients via a number of engagement methods and taking their suggestions on board. With over 140 community health champions in the borough, health forums and various consultation groups and engagement networks, local residents have a number of avenues through which to make their voices heard.

One successful engagement-led programme which has recently been completed in Knowsley is ‘what sort of quitter are you,’ a smoking cessation campaign with a tailored approach which aimed to significantly increase the local smoking quit rate. Local people were involved in developing a relevant and successful programme.

Knowsley has a higher than average smoking rate with an estimated 48,640 smokers in the borough, that’s over 32 per cent of the population.

Sue Drew, director of public health for Knowsley said: “The development of the ‘what sort of quitter are you’ campaign is a great example of the person centred approach that we take.  Workshops with smokers in the borough gave us the opportunity to find out how they really felt about their smoking, if and how they wanted to quit. They told us that they were unresponsive to being lectured and told what to do, but we found that many did feel really bad about their smoking behaviour and when they were offered the support to quit in a way that would suit them, they felt really positive.”

Through the workshops we met with 40 local people to understand their views on smoking. Following this, seven ‘quit types’ were developed based upon the feedback, such as ‘the serial quitter’ and ‘the creature of habit.’ Once smokers could relate to a specific profile, a smoking cessation service could be recommended to suit their exact needs.

Ms Drew added: “We heard what they were telling us about their fears of quitting and created the characters that smokers really relate to.  Because they identified with the characters they began to believe that by working with us to create a plan for quitting, a smoke free life was an option for them.”

Once the programme had been devised, Knowsley Health & Wellbeing hit the streets to promote the campaign. Via a week-long roadshow, 400 smokers were engaged, 100 of which are now using one of Knowsley’s smoking cessation services and a further 200 are receiving smoking cessation advice via text message.

Knowsley Health & Wellbeing has a number of smoking cessation services to choose from including; Roy Castle Fag Ends, a one-stop-shop for quitters of every sort, Quit @ Work, support sessions for groups of people in the workplace, young people’s services and support in pharmacies.

As a result, the proportion of people smoking in Knowsley had dropped from 26.6 per cent in 2006, to 23.7 per cent in 2009.  Last year alone, more than 2000 smokers in Knowsley have been helped to quit.