New NHS gambling clinic opens amid growing demand

The NHS has opened a new gambling clinic in Sheffield this week, meeting the ambitious NHS Long Term Plan target with 15 services now available across the country.

Amid growing demand for services, the opening of the new clinic in Sheffield means that the NHS has now almost doubled the number of specialist clinics available in the space of a year within England.

The Sheffield clinic joins existing problem gambling services in London, Milton Keynes, Thurrock, Bristol, Derby, Liverpool, Blackpool, Preston, Leeds, Newcastle, Manchester, Southampton, Stoke-on-Trent, and Telford – seven of which opened in the last year.

The NHS national clinic opened in London in 2008, and treats patients over the age of 13.

Up to 3,000 people a year are expected to be treated in the 15 clinics and people can either self-enrol to a service or can be referred through GP teams.

While patients can get support from various excellent charities, our clinics will provide those coming forward with specialist teams which include clinical psychologists, therapists, mental health practitioners, psychiatrists, and peer support.

NHS Chief Executive Amanda Pritchard, said: “Gambling addiction is a cruel disease which has the power to destroy people’s lives, and as referrals continue to rapidly increase for these services, it is right that we increase the support available in line with demand.

The opening of the new NHS gambling clinic is a significant milestone and amid record demand for help, it is timely for patients who desperately need this vital treatment.

The £1billion gambling industry which operates 24/7 is becoming more addictive, and with mainstream sporting events driving increasing numbers to problem gambling, it’s now more important than ever that people have access to treatment that adapts to their healthcare needs.”

The opening of Sheffield’s clinic is part of a record £2.3 billion national investment into mental health services.

NHS mental health director Claire Murdoch said: “Gambling can have a debilitating impact on personal relationships, your finances and severely damage your mental wellbeing.

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.

If you’re worried about your relationship with gambling, please come forward to our clinics by self-referral or speak to your GP practice.”

Public Health Minister Andrea Leadsom said: “Gambling can have a devastating impact on people’s lives and the dangers of it can often go unseen until it’s too late.

The opening of the new NHS gambling treatment clinics will ensure those experiencing harm are able to access the right treatment and support at the right time.

We are making huge progress by doubling the number of specialist clinics available in just one year in England – meeting our ambition in the Long-Term Plan and ensuring every region of the country can access these excellent services.”

National Clinical Advisor on Gambling Harms, Professor Henrietta Bowden-Jones OBE, said: “Having founded the first ever NHS clinic to treat gambling disorders in 2008, I am grateful to NHS England for having taken on the expansion of treatment delivery to cover the whole of the country.

We can now say there is no postcode lottery to treating gambling and all can benefit from evidence-based treatment to tackle this destructive illness which harms not only individuals but also their families.”

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 even higher.

The annual estimate of suicides associated with gambling is around 400, and a recent report revealed that 55,000 children between 11 and 16 have a gambling problem, and a further 99,000 are classified as “at risk” gamblers.