New £1m NHS-backed problem gambling service announced

6 November 2018

GambleAware has bolstered its efforts to tackle problem gambling in the UK by commissioning a new NHS treatment service worth over £1m (€1.2m/$1.3m) per year.

The Leeds-based NHS Northern Gambling Clinic will open in April 2019 and operate via a partnership between Leeds and York Partnership NHS Foundation Trust and the GamCare Network.

The site will provide treatment for people from the North of England. The NHS and third sector organisations will deliver this joined-up service, with support from the local council.

Gamcare is also in the process of developing a Problem Gambling Support team for the local area to help identify, screen, and support those affected by problem gambling.

GambleAware has already established a similar facility in the form of its London clinic, which is provided by Central & North West London NHS Foundation Trust. The Leeds site is the second service of its kind to be funded by the charity.

Marc Etches, chief executive of GambleAware, said: “Our aim is to stop people getting into problems with their gambling, and to ensure those that do develop problems receive fast and effective treatment and support.

“GamCare and the Leeds and York Partnership NHS Foundation Trust are adopting an integrated approach, from training and support of Primary Care and City Council services, through to identification and access to treatment, promoting a seamless care pathway and shared responsibility for case management.”

Etches also confirmed that GambleAware is exploring the possibility of opening similar sites in other locations around the UK if its “limited charitable resources allow” the charity to do so.

Confirmation of the Leeds facility comes on the penultimate day of Responsible Gambling Week in the UK, an initiative being backed by a number of leading bookmakers, industry groups and charities, including GambleAware.

Matt Gaskell, a consultant psychologist for Addiction Services at Leeds and York Partnership NHS Foundation Trust, will serve as the Clinical Lead for the new NHS Northern Gambling Clinic.

Gaskell said: “I have been campaigning for many years to set up a clinical service to help those affected by serious gambling disorder.

“Gambling addiction has a devastating effect on the lives of individuals and the people around them, including their loved ones. Those diagnosed with gambling disorder often need help with a range of difficulties, including mental health problems, and it can lead to serious debt and family breakdown, people losing their jobs, people turning to crime in desperation for funds, and even suicide.”

Meanwhile, the GAMSTOP Self-Exclusion Scheme has revealed that it has had more than 38,000 registrations since it went live in April.

GAMSTOP allows consumers to exclude themselves from UK gambling websites with a single registration. The free-to-use service offers users the option to exclude from gambling for six months, one year of five years.

In addition, visitors to the site can access further help, support and advice, such as links to GamCare and the National Debtline.

GAMSTOP CEO Fiona Palmer said: “We are very pleased with the response to GAMSTOP so far as the initial uptake proves there is clearly a need for this scheme.

“We will shortly be embarking on our first phase of evaluation which will help shape future improvements and enhancements to the service going forward.”

Image: Jamie Adams