Frequently asked questions
We have come across a number of questions that people often ask us and we hope that these questions and answers are helpful. Otherwise, please feel free to call us on 01305 755 828, or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org
What is the NCSCT?
The National Centre for Smoking Cessation and Training (NCSCT) aims to support stop smoking services and practitioners, plus other health and social care professionals, to provide high quality stop smoking interventions based on the most up-to-date evidence available. The NCSCT works towards this aim in partnership with the field through the provision of online and face-to-face (virtual) training courses and modules, and a website containing the latest resources and guidance.
What is the significance of the NCSCT Training Standard - Learning Outcomes for Training Stop Smoking Practitioners?
The NCSCT Training Standard superseded the HDA standard as the official benchmark of quality training for stop smoking service personnel in April 2010. It is based on the key competences (knowledge and skills) required to deliver effective smoking cessation interventions and was fully updated in 2018.
What training does the NCSCT provide?
NCSCT online training and assessment programmes are free of charge and are available to all from our website. They are based on the competences identified in the NCSCT Training Standard and include the following elements:
- Assessment of core knowledge and practice skills for stop smoking practitioners
- Very Brief Advice training
- Secondhand smoke training
- Specialty module on smoking cessation and mental health
- Specialty module on pregnancy and the post-partum period
- Very Brief Advice on smoking for pregnant women
- Very Brief Advice on Smoking for Homelessness services
The NCSCT also provide face-to-face (now virtual) courses in behavioural support skills. These two-day courses in the behaviour change techniques for which there is most evidence of effectiveness have been delivered to over 10,000 practitioners. Costs for this course are available upon request and details are in the Training Resources section of this site.
What are the benefits of undertaking NCSCT training and assessment programmes?
Ensuring that staff delivering stop smoking interventions have passed the Assessment of core knowledge and skills and achieved NCSCT certification provides stop smoking services with a measure of quality assurance by:
- Confirming that stop smoking practitioners have the necessary knowledge and skills required to deliver stop smoking interventions.
- Ensuring that the interventions that stop smoking practitioners deliver are evidence-based.
How do I access the NCSCT Training and Assessment Programme?
- Committing stop smoking practitioners to providing evidence of clinical effectiveness and ongoing continual professional development.
The NCSCT Training and Assessment Programme is available via the NCSCT website: www.ncsct.co.uk
Who is eligible to undertake the Training and Assessment Programme?
We would encourage anybody who helps smokers to quit to register with the NCSCT, use the online training programme and take the practitioner assessment. This includes both Specialist Stop Smoking Practitioners, frequently employed directly by stop smoking services, and Community Stop Smoking Practitioners, including those based in GP surgeries, pharmacies and other settings.
This NCSCT certification will then give practitioners, their employers and, most importantly of all, their clients, evidence that they are competent in helping smokers to stop - it is a quality assurance measure.
Note: The NCSCT online training and assessment programme covers the core knowledge and skills and so should not be perceived as conferring expert status. We have always been clear as well that our national training needs to be complemented by local training and that for practitioners to be effective they must also, in addition to being NCSCT certified, observe an experienced practitioner before seeing clients, be observed themselves and receive regular support and supervision. They should also engage in continuing professional development activities and ensure that a minimum number of clients are seen a year to maintain their knowledge and skills.
What is the NCSCT pass mark?
The pass mark for the core knowledge and skills assessment is 70%.
What happens if I fail the assessment?
If you fail the assessment, you can retake it. There is no limit on how times you can attempt the assessment.
Why do we need to enter personal details into the registration form?
Some of the information asked for on registration is included because it is needed for our research projects/ evaluations. We are currently reviewing the data we request to ensure that we only collect relevant data. To find out more about how the NCSCT uses and protects its data please click here
for our data protection statement.
What happens once I pass the assessments?
You will receive an email congratulating you on passing and an electronic copy of your certificate. In addition, we publish the names of any NCSCT certified practitioner on the Certified Practitioners list on our website. You can opt-out of having your name on the certified trainees list, by emailing enquiries
Can I access a copy of the Training Programme that is not online?
It was designed as an online course and so is not feasible for it to also be available in hard copy. However there is a print to pdf function available on the training pages.
Can I find out the questions I got wrong and the answers to them?
Unfortunately we cannot give you the correct answers as we use a limited number of questions for the assessments and release of the answers would undermine the validity of NCSCT certification.
Can you tell me more about the specialty modules and who they are aimed at?
The NCSCT has released two specialty modules; Smoking in Pregnancy and the Post-Partum Period and Smoking and Mental Health. Both modules are based upon identified and evidence-based behaviour change techniques and have been written for us by leading clinical and academic experts. Anyone who is NCSCT certified is eligible to access the specialty modules.
Will you be doing training that focuses on groups?
We have identified the competences (knowledge and skills) required to deliver effective smoking cessation interventions for both individual and group interventions. We have based our online training and assessment programme around these, including an extensive practice section.
The NCSCT Training Standard also lists these competences as learning outcomes for any training of smoking cessation practitioners (in group or individual contexts) and can be found in the Training Resources section of this site.
Our face-to-face (virtual) skills-based training courses focus on individual interventions. This is not because we do not recognise the increased effectiveness of group interventions, it is purely recognition that less than 3% of smokers setting a quit date with local stop smoking services do so in groups. A specialty module for group treatment may be developed in the future, but we will make our decision on this based upon anticipated demand and clinical need.
Will the NCSCT be providing training in 'alternative' approaches to smoking cessation (e.g. hypnotherapy and acupuncture)?
No. The NCSCT's training programmes will focus only on treatment approaches with clear evidence of efficacy according to the research literature.
Looking specifically at hypnotherapy, at present rigorous reviews of the evidence-base do not support the use of hypnotherapy as research to date has not shown that it can improve long-term abstinence rates (see Abbot NC, Stead LF, White AR and Barnes J (2006) 'Hypnotherapy for smoking cessation'. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews (2): CD001008)
How does the NCSCT training fit in with Level 2 and 3 stop smoking practitioners?
Our training does not adhere to the level 2/3 distinction because of our competence-based approach. We believe that every practitioner who sees a smoker should possess these competences in order to effectively deliver stop smoking interventions.
How does this training fit with our local training and should we continue to commission local training for local stop smoking service staff?
We would recommend that all stop smoking practitioners undertake the online training and assessment programme as this will allow them to prove to themselves and to clients that they have the necessary knowledge to help smokers to stop. It also offers your service a measure of quality assurance in the interventions being delivered to smokers. We would, however, recommend that local training programmes should be reviewed and aligned with the NCSCT Training Standard.
Note: The NCSCT online Training and Assessment Programme covers the core knowledge and skills and so should not be perceived as conferring expert status. We have always been clear as well that our national training needs to be complemented by local training and that for practitioners to be effective they must also, in addition to being NCSCT certified, observe an experienced practitioner before seeing clients, be observed themselves and receive regular support and supervision. They should also engage in continuing professional development activities and ensure that a minimum number of clients are seen a year to maintain their knowledge and skills.
What about other commercial training courses such as the 'Maudsley Training'?
If services use commercial trainers then it is recommended that they should meet the learning outcomes outlined in the NCSCT Training Standards document and that there should also be an assessment. The 'Maudsley' courses have also been rated very highly by participants and they are run by many of the people who helped us develop NCSCT training.
Will individual trainers and/or training organisations be able to apply for NCSCT accreditation?
No. The NCSCT does not accredit other trainers or training organisations.
Is it compulsory for all stop smoking practitioners to undertake the NCSCT training and assessments?
Although strongly recommended it is not compulsory for stop smoking practitioners to undertake our training. However, it is likely that in the very near future commissioners of stop smoking services will require NCSCT certification of practitioners as both NICE and the Office for Health Improvement and Disparities (OHID) recommend that anyone assisting smokers to quit should be NCSCT Certified.
How will the NCSCT keep its stakeholders informed of developments and available training services?
The NCSCT website will be the main portal for up-to-date information on NCSCT training developments and support services. The website offers the opportunity to join our mailing list to receive the latest information from the NCSCT.
Have specific competences been identified for commissioners?
We have not yet addressed competences for commissioners of smoking cessation services but we have produced a number of resources to assist commissioners with their roles and these are available in the Commissioning Resources section of this site.
Included in this set of resources is a toolkit 'Stop Smoking Services: Needs Analysis: a toolkit for commisssioners' has been developed to help commissioners identify, assess and prioritise where effective action should be taken when commissioning stop smoking services. It will help in considering the initial phase of the commissioning cycle; assess need of potential service users, review current service provision, and identify gaps to help focus commissioning on the identified priorities.