Tuesday, May 28, 2024

Thurrock will be home to new clinic as NHS battles against gambling addiction

THURROCK is to play host to one of seven new gambling addiction clinics will open this summer.

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 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.

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.”

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 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.


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