Two new gambling addiction clinics have been opened by the NHS while recent data showed there was a spike in the number of people seeking help for gambling disorders.
Spike in Gambling Addictions
The new clinics the NHS opened in Stoke-on-Trent and Southampton will treat people suffering from serious gambling addiction issues and have the capacity to provide specialized help to thousands of patients a year.
Commenting on the news, NHS Mental Health Director Claire Murdoch outlined what “a cruel illness” addiction is and its ability to take over and ruin human lives, cause financial distress and strain family relations, and even be deadly in the most extreme cases.
“Thousands suffer gambling problems across the country, and it is important those suffering from addiction know that the NHS is here to help and they should not hesitate to come forward for support if needed,” Murdoch added.
According to newly-released NHS figures, the number of referrals for treatment for gambling addiction between April and September was 599, an increase of 42% to 421 patients referred to treatment in the same period in 2021.
More Clinics to Open by 2023/24
The new clinics brought the total number of clinics opened under the NHS Long Term Plan to seven, adding to those already opened in London, Leeds, Sunderland, Manchester, and Telford, while another clinic in London is for treating gambling and gaming addiction for children and young people.
Data from the Gambling Commission suggests that around 138,000 suffer from gambling addiction, while around 1.3 million are engaged in either moderate or low-risk gambling but according to other research estimates, the people involved in the last category could be many more.
The NHS announced plans to open 15 gambling clinics by 2023/23 and as it turned out earlier this year, the NHS would fully fund its services, refusing the funds provided by the gambling industry-funded charity GambleAware.
Refusing Funding from Industry
The NHS received feedback from patients and clinicians signaling a conflict of interest for the industry which generates profits of over £14 billion a year in the UK and continues its harmful practices while providing on a voluntary basis inadequate funding for the treatment of gambling addiction.
Commenting further, Murdoch pointed the finger at the industry, arguing that “while the NHS is there for anybody suffering, the NHS cannot be left alone to pick up the ills caused by unhealthy business practices,” adamant that companies that are behind the activities that fuel addiction should reconsider their approach to profits and take into account the human cost.
As part of its efforts to improve the availability of help for those suffering, the NHS launched a new Gambling Harms Network and Clinical Reference Group to enable clinics to share best practices by bringing together expertise.
Also this year, the NHS appointed Professor Henrietta Bowden-Jones as the first in its history National Clinical Advisor on Gambling Harms.