NHS Steps Up Fight To Treat Gambling Harms and Addiction
Ahead of its 75th birthday this week, Britain’s embattled but storied National Health Service (NHS) plans to double the number of gambling addiction clinics in the nation.
Seven new gambling addiction treatment centres will open–in Blackpool, Bristol, Derby, Liverpool, Milton Keynes, Sheffield, and Thurrock in Essex–over this summer, NHS Chief Executive Amanda Pritchard announced today.
The new clinics will join the eight existing gambling harms clinics operating in London, Leeds, Newcastle, Manchester, Southampton, Stoke-on-Trent and Telford, in addition to a national London-based clinic, which treats both gambling and gaming addiction in children and young people.
“[We are] adapting to new healthcare needs and expanding the support services for thousands of people experiencing gambling-related harm” said the NHS in a statement.
According to the latest NHS figures, around 1,400 patients were referred for gambling addiction treatment last year, almost double the number of people who sought help two-years-ago.
Casino in your Pocket
Under its expanded programme, the NHS now plans to treat up to 3,000 patients a year in its 15 gambling addiction clinics.
“In 1948 when the NHS was founded, you had to go to a bookies to place a bet,” said Pritchard.
“But now people can gamble on their phone at the touch of a button and everyone, young and old, is bombarded with adverts encouraging them to take part.
“Record numbers of people are coming to the NHS for help to treat their gambling addiction.
“[This is] a cruel disease which has the power to destroy people’s lives, with referrals up by more than a third compared to last year.
“As it has done since 1948, the NHS is responding at speed and rolling out seven new gambling harms clinics across England, so that even more people can be supported by the NHS in their time of need.”
According to the UK’s regulatory Gambling Commission, nearly 140,000 people in the nation could be experiencing “serious” betting addiction harms; with another 1.3 million people at risk from “moderate” or “low-risk” harms.
NHS teams of psychologists, therapists, psychiatrists, mental health nurses and peer-support workers at the gambling addiction clinics offer succour to patients’ family members, partners and carers and treat people with serious addiction issues through cognitive behavioural therapy, family therapy, support groups and aftercare.
“Addiction is a cruel disease that can take over and ruin lives, whether it be destroying finances or ruining relationships,” said NHS Director of Mental Health Claire Murdoch.
Ban Gambling Ads
Meantime, the NHS has also stepped up its campaign for national football clubs and other sporting institutions to ban sponsorship from gambling firms.
“It would be really great to see the gambling industry, and also organisations like football clubs, really think seriously about their responsibilities here,” said NHS Chief Executive Pritchard.
“[Shirt sponsorship deals mean] that every day kids are seeing messages that say gambling is OK.”
For their part, the English Premier League announced this May that it will ban all football shirt advertising by betting firms by the start of the 2025-26 season.
A similar ban has yet to be agreed by the lower English Football Leagues association or the Scottish Premiership Football League.
Also keenly awaited by all responsible gambling advocates–among them iGamingFuture–are more details on the government’s avowal to apply a statutory levy on the betting industry to raise further funds to combat and ameliorate the impact of gambling addiction.