Publish date: 8 January 2024

A maternity worker in Tameside who has helped halve the number of women smoking in pregnancy has been awarded a national accolade.

Wendy-Ann Whittle received the Excellence in Reducing Maternal Smoking award at an event held in the House of Commons shortly before Christmas.

The recognition came from the Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) charity, which aims to end the harm caused by tobacco.

Since Wendy joined Tameside and Glossop Integrated Care NHS FT in 2018, the number of women locally smoking at the time of delivery has decreased from 15% to 8% - and is continuing to decline.

After being nominated by one of her peers, Wendy was selected among five winners to join ASH’s special event in London and receive her award.

Speaking about her award win, Wendy said: “I didn’t know anything about the nomination until I had an e-mail inviting me to the House of Commons to attend the event and receive an award. I nearly fell off my chair!

“I am so grateful to be recognised in this way and proud of the work we have done to reduce smoking in pregnancy. It is something close to my heart.”

Working alongside the Greater Manchester Smokefree Pregnancy Team, Wendy and the team at Tameside offer support and advice to expectant mums.

Weekly visits for the first four-to-six weeks are followed up with monthly visits, which continue until up to three months after delivery.

During those regular visits, Wendy offers behavioural support and practical advice on how to quit smoking, which could include nicotine replacement or vape kits.

“With the referrals we are getting through, we know women are hearing about the programme and the options we can give them to stop smoking,” said Wendy, who was an area manager for a childcare company before joining the NHS in her current position.

“We typically look after up to 50 women at any one time, acting as a sounding board, highlighting the dangers of carbon monoxide in the blood and how this can affect babies’ development.

“It is great to get to know patients on a personal basis and offer them the support they need to give their baby the best start.”