NHS clinic to treat problem gambling could open in Leeds

GambleAware is in advanced talks with local public health organisations to establish the first problem gambling clinic in the North of England in Leeds.

Leeds town hall

The clinic would be only the second of its kind in the UK and the first outside of London. © Leeds-List.

Problem gambling support charity, GambleAware, currently funds one problem gambling clinic in the UK, the only one of its kind, based in London.

An initiative between Leeds City Council and GambleAware began last year with the aim of establishing a Northern problem gambling clinic.

This notion was supported in a consultation launched last year and published in October 2017 by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sports (DCMS), that recommended, among other things, a string of regional clinics to be established that could connect to existing NHS treatment services. The report also praised Leeds City Council’s initial efforts to set up a clinic in the City.

With the talks in an advanced stage, a regional problem gambling ‘masterclass’ was held in Leeds last week, hosted Public Health England. Fifteen councils from the region met to discuss the issue and set out their ideas to tackle problem gambling in the region.

Among those presenting were researchers from Leeds Beckett University. Initial research conducted by Leeds Beckett University and commissioned by Leeds City Council found that there could over 10,000 people in Leeds alone addicted to gambling, with an additional 30,000 at risk of harm being caused as a result of gambling.

Speaking about the potential for a clinic to be built in Leeds, Dr Ian Cameron, Director of Public Health at Leeds City Council, said:

Gambling is often a hidden addiction with serious financial problems and a massive impact on someone’s health, wellbeing and relationships. Leeds City Council is aware that Leeds & York Partnership Foundation NHS Trust has put a proposal to GambleAware to fund a specialist treatment service for those with gambling problems. The intention is for this service to be offered to the north of England. The council would support a treatment service funded by the gambling industry that is sustainable and responsive to the growing needs of problem gamblers in Leeds.Dr Ian Cameron, Director of Public Health at Leeds City Council

The need for another clinic has long been known and GambleAware has long had the intention to open more problem gambling clinics in the UK, with the next being based in the North of England.

The charity is pleased at the advancements of the initiative. A spokesman from GambleAware said:

With over 400,000 problem gamblers in Britain, GambleAware is concerned that gambling-related harm ought to be regarded by national and regional policymakers as a significant public health issue, and that the NHS ought to be providing access to treatment when and wherever necessary, free at the point of delivery. spokesman, GambleAware

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