Government to open further problem gambling clinics
Theresa May has announced plans to open a number of gambling addiction clinics as part of a £20.5bn boost to the NHS. The clinics will ensure that the UK’s over 500,000 adults and young people with gambling problems have access to mental health treatment over the next five years.
There is currently just one problem gambling treatment clinic in the UK, in Fulham. That is insufficient to cope with the current 400,000 problem gamblers and two million people exhibiting at risk signs.
To deal with the demand, the Prime Minister has asked Health Secretary Matthew Hancock to begin work on opening more treatment centres.
The clinics would be funded by May’s long-term NHS plan, which will see the health service given an extra £20.5bn until 2023.
The move is a positive one and highlights how the Government views problem gambling as a mental health issue, as advocated by the Gambling Commission and GambleAware.
However, there are some doubts about how the clinics will operate. With Brexit looming, staff shortages, which are already at a high level, are set to get much worse.
Some figures in the health industry are urging the Prime Minister to address staff issues before embarking on ambitious projects such as this. These points have also been put forward by Labour, with the opposition party publicly attacking the Prime Minister over the proposals.
Leeds and Lancashire leading the way in treatment
Work has been underway for some time in both Leeds and Lancashire to offer treatment centres for problem gamblers.
Leeds will be the location of the first problem gambling treatment clinic outside of London, with an expected opening date sometime this year. GambleAware has contributed £1.2m towards the costs of opening the clinic, which will be run by the GamCare network and the York Partnership NHS Foundation Trust.
In Lancashire, the NHS Foundation Trust partnered with Beacon Counselling Trust in November to offer both a clinic and an app as treatment for problem gamblers in the region. The clinic offers counselling, while the app provides daily motivation and cognitive behavioural therapy exercises designed to treat both gambling and mental health issues.