Gambling Addiction Clinic to Open in North of England

A gambling addiction clinic will be set up in Leeds by the NHS. It will be the only gambling addiction clinic in the country currently based outside London. Reformers welcome the move as a step in the right direction.

GambleAware will contribute £1.2m of the costs of the clinic, which is expected to open in 2019. It will be titled the NHS Northern Gambling Clinic and will be run by the York Partnership NHS Foundation Trust and the GamCare Network. It has been set up to serve people with gambling addictions across the North of England. Gambling addiction can lead to a whole suite of issues, including debt, family breakdown, loss of job, criminal activities and suicide.

Man chained to computer

Gambling addicition can be crippling © Pexels.

According to the NHS, 430,000 people have gambling issues while a further two million may be at risk of developing one, yet only two per cent of problem gamblers are currently receiving treatment. Leeds is a smart choice to set up this clinic as, according to a study by Leeds Beckett University, the rate of problem gambling in the area is twice the national average, with 7-8% of people either problem gamblers or at risk of becoming one.

As Ann Evans, whose son, Alan Lockhart, committed suicide in 2010 after developing a gambling addiction, says: “We’ve been trying so long to get this sorted as the only treatment available is down south in London… It’s not the end of the problem but a huge benefit for a lot of people.”

The National Problem Gambling Clinic in London is a great example of what trained psychiatrists and psychologists can do in order to help patients unlearn the destructive behaviour that caused them to gamble excessively in the first place. As Marc Etches, the chief executive of GambleAware says:

Our aim is to stop people getting into problems with their gambling and to ensure those that do develop problems receive fast and effective treatment and support. Marc Etches, CEO GambleAware

The Clinical Lead for the new NHS Northern Gambling clinic, Matt Gaskell, has supported this motion, stating that: I’m thrilled that we’ve finally got the go-ahead to set up an NHS gambling addiction service across the north of England… there is hope for people seriously addicted to gambling. Of all mental health problems, the prospects for people with addictions can be some of the best and when people seek help we often see them make really good recoveries.” The Clinic will initially be set up in Leeds in Spring 2019, before slowly extending its reach across the whole of Northern England.

This news comes after Sports Minister Tracey Crouch resigned after what she saw as an unnecessary delay over a cap on Fixed Odds Betting Terminal stakes from £100 to £2. The war against excessive and dangerous gambling continues, with the Labour party, currently in opposition, pushing the Tories for sweeping reforms, including a ban on betting with credit cards and advertisements during sporting events as well as a compulsory 1% levy on betting companies intended to fund research education and treatment for problem gambling.

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