Thousands of people suffering with severe gambling addiction problems across the north of England are to get access to an NHS service for the first time.
National charity GambleAware has announced plans to commission The NHS Northern Gambling Clinic, a new service based in Leeds – the only one in England outside of London.
The service will be delivered by Leeds and York Partnership NHS Foundation Trust, a leading mental health and learning disabilities trust, and GamCare, the leading provider of information, advice, support and free counselling for the prevention and treatment of problem gambling.
Across Great Britain, it is estimated that 430,000 people have a gambling problem and another two million are at risk of developing one – yet fewer than two per cent of problem gamblers are receiving treatment. In Leeds, a study by Leeds Beckett University showed that rates of problem gambling are broadly twice the national average (1.8% versus the national rate of 0.9%, or approximately 13,000 people). The study also suggests that 7-8% of people in Leeds are either problem or at risk gamblers.
The NHS Northern Gambling Clinic will be the second such NHS-hosted clinic funded by GambleAware. It will provide treatment for people who have become addicted to gambling or are at risk of becoming addicted to gambling – providing prompt treatment for people including those whose case is severe or complex.
The service will initially be set up to work across the city of Leeds in Spring 2019. Once it is working across this area, it will extend its reach across the whole of the north of England within six months – covering the North East, North West, North Wales, Yorkshire and the Humber and the northern Midlands areas.
It will operate on a ‘hub and spoke’ model, with smaller satellite bases to be set up in key locations with greater need. Clinical staff will reach out into communities especially to groups currently under-represented in treatment such as black and minority ethnic groups, women and those in the criminal justice system. The service has been set up on a three year grant agreement, worth £1.2million a year.
Matt Gaskell (pictured) is a Consultant Psychologist for Addiction Services at Leeds and York Partnership NHS Foundation Trust. He will be the Clinical Lead for the new NHS Northern Gambling Clinic.
Matt said: “I’m thrilled that we’ve finally got the go ahead to set up an NHS gambling addiction service across the north of England. Gambling addiction has a devastating effect on people’s lives and those around them, including their loved ones.
“Those diagnosed with gambling disorder often need help with a range of difficulties, including mental health problems. It can lead to serious debt and family breakdown, people losing their jobs, people turning to crime in desperation for funds, and even suicide. In fact, of all the addictions people suffer from, gambling has the highest suicide rate.
“The problem is not just restricted to adults. In recent years we’ve seen a rise in problem gambling amongst younger people. Research shows that nearly 400,000 eleven to 16-year-old children are gambling in England and Wales every week, including 25,000 children defined as problem gamblers.
“I have been campaigning for many years to set up an NHS service to help those affected by serious gambling disorder. Working alongside our partners GamCare, who already help thousands of people every year, the NHS has an important role to play in helping people at the more severe end of the spectrum who might be at real risk of harming themselves.
“However, 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.
“I’m looking forward to getting this service up and running so we can start turning lives around.”
If you need help with gambling problems now
GamCare offers free information, support and counselling for problem gamblers in the UK.
Contact the National Gambling Helpline on 0808 8020 133 or visit their website at www.gamcare.org.uk
GamCare also hosts a forum for people to get help and advice, and share their stories. Visit www.gamcare.org.uk/forum
All the options for people suffering with gambling addiction can be found on the national NHS website at www.nhs.uk/live-well/healthy-body/gambling-addiction
Leeds and York Partnership NHS Foundation Trust
The Trust is main provider of specialist mental health and learning disability services in Leeds. It also provides specialist services across York, the Yorkshire and Humber region, and some highly specialised national services. The Trust hosts the Leeds Addiction Unit, operating under the banner of Forward Leeds, which provides assessment, treatment and aftercare for people who misuse alcohol and other drugs and who have complex health needs.
GambleAware is an independent charity tasked to fund research, education and treatment services to help to reduce gambling-related harms in Great Britain. GambleAware published a 5-year strategy in November 2016, and in July 2018 published a Strategic Delivery Plan that sets out how the charity proposes to broaden the range of services and activities it funds, supports and works with between 2018 and 2020. For more information visit http://about.gambleaware.org/