Seven new gambling addiction clinics will open this summer as NHS services face record demand, chief executive Amanda Pritchard announced today.
Ahead of its 75th birthday on Wednesday 5 July, the NHS said it was “adapting to new healthcare needs” and rapidly expanding the support services for thousands of people experiencing gambling-related harms.
New figures, published today, reveal that around 1,400 patients were referred for help last year, an increase of more than a third on the previous 12 months and up by almost four fifths compared to two years ago.
The seven new clinics are in Milton Keynes, Thurrock, Bristol, Derby, Liverpool, Blackpool, and Sheffield.
There are already eight gambling harms clinics open in London, Leeds, Newcastle, Manchester, Southampton, Stoke-on-Trent, and Telford, as well as an additional national clinic, which treats both gambling and gaming addiction in children and young people, in London.
The NHS plans to treat up to 3,000 patients a year across the 15 clinics, fulfilling the NHS Long Term Plan commitment six months ahead of schedule.
NHS chief executive, Amanda Pritchard, said: “Ahead of the NHS’s 75th birthday on Wednesday, this expansion shows the NHS once again adapting to the new healthcare needs that have emerged over the last 75 years.
“In 1948 when the NHS was founded, you had to go to a bookies to place a bet, 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, 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.”
Around 138,000 people could be problem gambling according to Gambling Commission figures, with around a further 1.3 million people engaging in either moderate or low-risk gambling – although other research estimates that this figure could be higher.
One patient who received help from the Northern Gambling Harms Service, said: “Gambling addiction took over my life to the extent I was suicidal and relationships with my family and friends had broken down. Engaging with NHS services has helped me get control of my life back and I’m rebuilding trust with my family and friends, once again having happy and healthy relationships with people close to me.”
While one mother described the role of the Northern Gambling Harms Service in treating her son: “Our son has now been free of gambling for 7 months. As caring parents, it is extremely distressing to learn of the torment, guilt, shame, and loss that gambling brings to your child. The fear that our son felt there was no way out of his addiction and taking his life was the only option was very real and raw!.
“The NHS Gambling Harms Service has guided and supported us to get on the right track as a family and to understand more about gambling addiction. We support our son by putting protective factors in place, like coping strategies. We cannot thank NHS services enough for the support and encouragement we have received. We feel that we have our son back.”
The latest clinics will treat people with serious addiction issues through cognitive behavioural therapy, family therapy, support groups and aftercare.
NHS teams including psychologists, therapists, psychiatrists, mental health nurses and peer support workers also offer support to patients’ family members, partners, and carers.
NHS mental health director Claire Murdoch said: “Addiction is a cruel disease that can take over and ruin lives, whether it be destroying finances or ruining relationships, but the NHS is here to help, so if you or someone you know is struggling with gambling addiction please come forward.
“Although progress has been made on clamping down on this billion-pound industry with the Government’s White Paper, I hope further action can be taken to protect our young people and future generations from being bombarded by gambling advertisement while watching sport.”
Public Health Minister Neil O’ Brien, said: “The stark rise in the number of people seeking NHS treatment for gambling-related harms shows the devastating impact it can have on people’s lives and health.
“These new clinics will bring vital support to more parts of the country, so thousands more people can get the help they need. We have taken firm action to tackle gambling-related harms through our White Paper, which includes our commitment to introduce a statutory levy so gambling companies pay their fair share towards the costs of treatment services.”
Referrals to NHS Gambling Harms Services by year:
- 2022/23 (April 2022 – March 2023): 1,389 total referrals (Q1 305, Q2 294, Q3 391, Q4 399).
- 2021/22 (April 2021 – March 2022): 1,013 total referrals (Q1 193, Q2 228, Q3 247, Q4 345).
- 2020/21 (April 2020 – March 2021): 775 total referrals (Q1 136, Q2 226, Q3 213, Q4 200).
Latest ONS population estimates by age for England suggest that there are 46,006,951 people aged 16 and over living in the country.
Latest data from the gambling commission estimates 0.3% of the population is engaged in problem gambling, while 2.9% are engaged in either moderate or low risk gambling.
The new Gambling Harms Service are situated across England:
- The East of England Gambling Harms Service will be provided by both Central North West London NHS Foundation Trust and Midlands Partnership NHS Foundation Trust, with clinics based in Milton Keynes and Thurrock.
- The South West Gambling Harms Service will be provided by Avon and Wiltshire Mental Health Partnership NHS Trust with a hub clinic located in Bristol.
- The East Midlands Gambling Harms Service will be provided by Derbyshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust with a hub clinic located in Derby which opened this month.
- The NHS Northern Gambling Harms services provided by Leeds And York Partnership NHS Foundation Trust will open clinics in Sheffield, Blackpool and Liverpool in the coming months.