The NHS Expands Support for Gambling Addiction as Demand Soars

The NHS Expands Support for Gambling Addiction as Demand Soars

The Chief Executive of NHS England, Amanda Pritchard, has issued a warning about the dangers of easily accessible gambling, following a significant increase in the number of people seeking help for gambling addiction in England. Pritchard also expressed concerns about the excessive exposure of both children and adults to gambling advertisements. In response to the soaring demand for support, the NHS has decided to expand its services for individuals struggling with gambling problems. Last year alone, a record-breaking 1,389 patients were referred for assistance, compared to 1,013 the previous year and 775 two years prior. As a result, the NHS plans to establish seven additional specialist gambling clinics to cater to those in need.

Coroner’s Ruling Highlights the Role of Gambling Disorder in Tragic Death

The NHS’s decision to increase support for gambling addiction comes shortly after a coroner determined that gambling disorder played a significant role in the tragic death of a father of two, Luke Ashton. Ashton, who was 40 years old at the time of his suicide on April 22, 2021, had accumulated substantial debts amounting to £18,000 due to gambling on Betfair’s exchange. During the three-day inquest into his death at Leicester Coroner’s Court, area coroner Ivan Cartwright stated that the betting company could have done more to assist Ashton before he took his own life.

Expansion of NHS Clinics to Address Growing Demand

To meet the escalating demand for gambling addiction support, the NHS will establish seven new specialist gambling clinics in Milton Keynes, Thurrock, Bristol, Derby, Liverpool, Blackpool, and Sheffield. These clinics will operate alongside the existing facilities in London, Leeds, Newcastle, Manchester, Southampton, Stoke-on-Trent, and Telford. Additionally, a national clinic in London will continue to provide treatment for both gambling and gaming addiction in children and young people. Across these 15 clinics, the NHS aims to offer assistance to up to 3,000 patients each year. Treatment options for individuals with severe addiction will include cognitive behavioral therapy, family therapy, support groups, and aftercare. The clinics will be staffed by a team of psychologists, therapists, psychiatrists, mental health nurses, and peer support workers who will offer guidance not only to patients but also to their family members, partners, and caregivers.

NHS Adapts to Evolving Healthcare Needs

Amanda Pritchard emphasized that the NHS’s decision to expand support for gambling addiction aligns with the organization’s ability to adapt to changing healthcare needs. As the NHS approaches its 75th anniversary, Pritchard highlighted the significant shift from traditional forms of gambling, where individuals had to visit a bookmaker, to the current scenario where people can gamble with a simple touch on their smartphones. The widespread exposure to gambling advertisements targeting individuals of all ages further compounds the problem. With a substantial increase in referrals for gambling addiction treatment, Pritchard commended the NHS’s swift response and the establishment of seven new gambling harms clinics throughout England. This expansion ensures that even more individuals can receive the necessary support during their time of need.

Individuals in need of emotional support or who are experiencing suicidal thoughts can contact Samaritans at 116 123 or email jo@samaritans.org in the UK. In the United States, individuals can reach out to their local Samaritans branch or call 1 (800) 273-TALK.

UK

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