Seven new gambling addiction clinics will open this summer as the services face record demand, NHS England chief executive Amanda Pritchard has announced.
New figures reveal that around 1400 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.
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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.
‘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,’ said NHS chief executive, Amanda Pritchard.
‘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.’
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 clinics 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, but the NHS is here to help, so if you or struggling with gambling addiction please come forward,’ said NHS mental health director Claire Murdoch.
‘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.’